Like many New Zealanders I’m sure, Spaghetti Bolognese is a staple in our house. It’s a quick, unfussy meal at the end of a long day, guaranteed to please the senses with its thick, meaty, tomato sauce. It’s definitely one to satisfy.
However, I took some mince out the freezer yesterday morning with the intention of cooking something a bit different. A rather long time ago I wrote a list of goals for my 21st year (refer #4). Inspiration was born, and while the idea of this meal is by no means unique, it is the first time I have ever forayed into the world of Spaghetti and Meatballs (yes, they deserve to be capitalised). And if you’ve never visited chunky meatballs with your pasta either, it’s about time you did!
Similar to Spaghetti Bolognese, but on a completely new level. Same ingredients, different story. Kicked up a notch. Here we go.
The ulTimate Spaghetti & meatballs (Or Whatever-pasta-you-have-in-your-pantry & meatballs)
Inspired by Smitten Kitchen. Serves 4. Or 2 for dinner + lunch the next day. We live for leftovers.
- 500g lean minced beef
- 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (about 2 slices of bread)
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
- 1 onion
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 egg
- Olive oil (I’m still using Village Press, recommended!)
- Vegetable oil. I like Rice Bran.
- 3 onions
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 400g can chopped tomatoes
- 3 tpsp tomato sauce
- 1 tsp dried basil
- Salt & pepper
- Cooked pasta – use whatever you have on hand. Spaghetti is typical, but I had penne. So there.
- Vegetables/salad for the side.
- Freshly grated parmesan, if it floats your boat.
Dump mince and breadcrumbs in a large mixing bowl.
Chop garlic and onion for the meatballs. You could get ahead of the game at this step and chop garlic and onion for the sauce too.
Garlic needs to be finely minced, onions need to be finely chopped. As fine as you can get it for the meatballs, please.
Add the onion and garlic allocated to the meatball mix to the bowl, along with the dried basil, dried mixed herbs, egg, and a good shake of salt and pepper. Mix together with a fork, then lightly roll into small balls.
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil, and 1 tbsp vegetable oil on medium high heat in a large frying pan. In two batches (do not overcrowd the pan!), brown meatballs all over. The purpose of this step is not to cook the meatballs, this will happen in the sauce later. It is to give them a nice crispy outer shell, and so that they hold their shape in the sauce.
Remove meatballs onto a plate covered with paper towels.
At this stage, you might notice the pan looking a bit like this.
This is good. Do not clean this! The leftover oil and crispy bits in the pan are going to make our sauce amazing.
Add the 3 chopped onions to the pan, and cook over a medium heat until onions are cooked, about 10 minutes.
Add garlic and paprika (adds a depth of both flavour and colour) and cook for another minute.
Add the red wine. It will sizzle! Stir well, using the wine to deglaze the plan, so that all the brown crispy bits become part of the sauce. Yum.
Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, dried basil, and a good shake of salt and pepper.
Place the meatballs in the sauce and gently simmer for about half an hour. Use this time to have a glass of wine and get your pasta cooking.
As it simmers, the sauce will condense and become thick and luxurious.
Serve over al dente pasta, with a green vegetable or two on the side.
I’m looking forward to the leftovers for my lunch today. Yum, yum, yum.
Have you cooked anything new this week?