Sunday, 8 December 2013

Pork Meatballs in tomato sauce

On Friday I made some meatballs. This is another first for me (I'm steadily gaining experience in the kitchen, but I have a lot of catching-up to do!).

Before starting I read a few recipes on various websites (including a beautifully described one by Nigel Slater, whose writing I always enjoy), but I found them all to be quite different. Well, I suppose there were actually three common ingredients: meat, cereal and flavourings. The proportions and the cooking advice varied widely, so I had to resort to my instincts. I chose to do Pork meatballs, with bread to bind them, some milk to soften them, and onion, garlic, dried oregano and fennel seed to flavour them. I also decided I would serve them with home-made tomato sauce from the freezer.

Several hours before serving-time I made the meatballs and put them in the fridge to firm-up and to allow the flavours to infuse the meat. My technique was simple: put all the ingredients in a food-processor and zuzz them up until fully blended, then shape them into walnut-sized balls:

The amount of mixture I had was enough to make 25 balls - far too many for two of us to eat in one sitting, so I decided to cook them in two batches and freeze one for later use. I shallow-fried them in vegetable oil, browning them carefully, turning them over every now and then to ensure they were evenly cooked. When ready, I drained them on kitchen paper. To be honest, they didn't lose much fat or absorb much oil during the cooking. I had expected them to shrink considerably, but they didn't. The bread in them retains the fat from the meat and keeps them moist.

One of the meatballs was consumed immediately - a "tester", don't you know - 12 went into the freezer, and 12 became our dinner. I put our 12 into a deep pyrex dish, in a single layer, like so:

I then added the tomato sauce, which included a special ingredient - some of my recently-made home-grown paprika / chilli powder! I know some of you will be grimacing at this point, but believe you me, the chilli did add something good to the sauce. It was not overpowering; in fact you didn't notice it while eating the sauce, but afterwards you could feel just a little tingle on your lips.

Then into the oven, covered in foil. Meanwhile, I was making the accompaniments. Our carbs came in the form of tagliatelle (straight from a packet, I'm afraid). The vegetables were "January King" cabbage and Swede turnip. I parboiled the cabbage and stir-fried it with some smoky bacon lardons:

The Swede was cut into chips, lubricated with olive oil and flavoured with a generous scattering of crushed fennel seeds. Swede turnip is not particularly fully-flavoured and I think it needs a bit of help! The chips were then roasted in a hot oven to give them some colour:

They are very pale for Swede chips, aren't they? They look just like potatoes.
All that remained now was to assemble the various components at the appropriate time, and serve them:

If I did this again, I think I would make a bit more sauce, but I was very happy with the meatballs. Their texture was soft and tender, not hard or chewy, and the flavour - particularly the fennel seed - was really nice.

For those of you who might want to try "my" meatball recipe, here are the ingredients:
(To make approx 25 meatballs)
400g minced pork
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 large cloves garlic, peeled
3 slices white bread, crusts removed, or approx 100g breadcumbs
100ml milk
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp dried oregano

Method: See above!


  1. Delicious. I've never made meatballs, I've always bought them ready prepared but they look easy enough, I may give them a try myself next time.

  2. Very similar to our Saturday dinner except we had sausages from the farm shop. I made each sausage into three smaller ones. Granted we had beans in our mix and no tagliatelle or cabbage mixture - oh go on then - except for the tomato sauce (although I put carrot and leek in my tomato sauce). I guess it was all very different. I don't dislike chilli flavours - it's the effect they have on my skin I don't like.

  3. I would think peppers and tomato sauce would mix very well. I used to make one that had a lot of red peppers of various sorts in them. And I don't even have fennel seed in my spice drawers. I'm thinking of growing it next year so maybe that will be remedied.

  4. Your meal looks delicious as usual. Its made me hungry for an early lunch!

  5. They do sound lovely, well done you. Fennel and pork I really like together too. Even better with your own tomato sauce.

  6. A great looking meal, Mark. You have the makings of a great chef!

  7. now that looks like one superb meal... may I suggest next time you roll them in your hands which you've rubbed with oil first so the meat doesn't stick, then bake them in the oven instead of frying them, they'll be gorgeous!

  8. It's look so yummy. Thanks for sharing.

  9. The meatballs look good, but the cabbage divine! It's greens I am craving apparently.


Thank you for taking time to leave me a comment! Please note that Comment Moderation is enabled for older posts.