16 August 2010
A Recipe For Meatballs In Tomato And Red Pepper Sauce
Cooking at home differs from fancy cuisine in restaurants in that it is about compromise. While a top notch chef does not need to compromise on ingredients and quality, at home you need to juggle your precious time with what you have got available in your storecupboard and can find in the shops. Also, you need to take into account what your family will and won't eat; in a restaurant, the customer can chose his/her own menu to suit their mood and likes/dislikes from the menu, you have got to make one meal that satisfies everyone.
This recipe came out of that need to compromise. My sister's two girls do not really like potatoes and will eat pasta forever, while Jay wanted meatballs. So I came up with meatballs in tomato sauce with spaghetti. While everyone ate the pasta, some ignored the meatballs but enjoyed the tomato and red pepper sauce that they had been cooked in. Success all round.
Ingredients For The Tomato And Red Pepper Sauce:
1 medium sized onion, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 red pepper, topped and tailed, deseeded and roughly chopped
½ tsp natural sea salt
2 bay leaves (I used fresh from garden)
1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme leaves (I used fresh from garden; if using dry use ½ tsp)
2 tins / 800g / 1lb 12oz chopped organic tomatoes (near enough 2lbs)
2tbsp white wine (optional)
1tbsp soured cream
Ingredients For The Meatballs:
500g / 1lb 2oz minced beef steak (organic and locally sourced, if possible)
1 small onion, finely chopped (or even minced to hide from fussy kids)
50g / 2 oz breadcrumbs (ideally use bread that's gone slightly over rather than fresh, as they are more flavoursome plus it's less wasteful)
½ tsp organic nutmeg powder
½ tsp organic mace powder
½ tsp natural sea salt
1tbsp organic sunflower oil
1. In a decent sized pan, add the organic olive oil and heat under a medium heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic and cook gently for 5 minutes, then add the chopped red pepper and cook, stirring regularly for another 3 minutes.
2. Add the herb and spice flavours - sea salt, organic ground black pepper, thyme and bay leaves. Stir and cook for another 1 minute.
3. Add the white wine and chopped tomatoes, mix together, cover with a lid, then raise temperature until tomatoes just start boiling. Reduce heat and allow to simmer with the lid on for about 15 minutes. Leave to cool. While cooling, taste and adjust flavourings if you feel it is needed.
4. Remove the bay leaves. Then using a food processor or hand held blender, chop the sauce to a fine puree. Stir in the soured cream until thoroughly mixed through.
5. The best time to start making the meatballs is while the tomatoes are hubbling away for 15 minutes. Put all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mixed through completely. Cover and put into fridge for about 30 minutes to let the flavours flow through.
6. Take from fridge and scoop out dessert spoon sized amounts of meatball mix and roll into balls and put onto a plate. You can then put these into the fridge to cool again for 30 minutes which will make the meatballs firmer and less likely to collapse while cooking, but this is not necessary.
7. Warm an oven to 100oC / 212oF. Bring the tomato sauce to the boil and allow to simmer.
8. In a heavy bottomed frying pan, tip the organic sunflower oil and heat until hot. Lightly fry all the meatballs until golden brown and cooked through. Put the cooked meatballs on a baking tray in the oven to keep warm while you are cooking the others.
9. Put the meatballs delicately into the tomato sauce and cook in the sauce for 15 minutes.
10. Serve with pasta or rice and, perhaps, garnished with a little finely chopped parsley.