Monday, 20 June 2011

Fathers Day Meatballs

There are few things more tasty, more comforting and more delicious than home made meatballs.  I was reading recently about the appearance of meatballs across a variety of world cuisines.  I have made many variations myself: Moroccan lamb served with cous cous, turkey meatballs with fennel, greek meatballs stuffed with feta.  But it’s the Italian kind served with a rich tomato sauce that keep me going back for more.   

And what could be more perfect for a tasty fathers day meal for my lovely “faither”, who informed me that when he goes to the Italian it’s always a choice between the calzone or the meatballs.  Maybe I’ll attempt the calzone next year.  For now, here’s my top tips for a tasty meatball and lush tomato sauce.

The Meatball
-          Mix it up. I always try to use a combination of beef and pork mince.  It just seems to make them more moist and more tasty!
-          Make em big! They shrink on cooking so make them a bit bigger than you think.  We had the most amazing Italian style meatballs on Arthur Avenue in Bronx, NYC – and they were huge!
-         Experiment with additions.  While a basic meatball made with meat, onion, egg and breadcrumbs is deliciously simple, I like to try new additions each time I make them. Lasts nights incarnation included chilli flakes, smoked paprika and grated parmesan, but other things worth trying include garlic, various herbs and spices,  chopped chorizo, tomato puree, or cubes of mozzarella in the middle.
-         Bake them.  Have tried pan frying meatballs but I find the best results come from baking them on an oven tray drizzled with olive oil to create that caramelised brown outside.
The Sauce
-          It’s all in the Can.  I honestly believe you get what you pay for with canned tomatoes, so I try to use the best I can afford (which aint to fancy to be honest!).  They are so often on special offer I tend to have a cupboard full of them. I rarely use fresh tomatoes for a sauce.
-          Oil, oil, oil. Same goes for olive oil.  Good oil makes the world of difference – and the more the better!
-          Basic is better.  For meatballs there’s no need to go extravagant with your sauce.  I used a simple tomato, garlic, white wine and olive oil base, with added black pepper, salt and sugar.  A teaspoon of smoked paprika can make a big difference though.
-          And to finish...  I love to finish off my sauce with a glug or three of gorgeous olive oil and a sprinkling of fresh parsley and basil.

Mmmmm.  Good stuff.  Enjoy!

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