This is my favourite ever meatball recipe. The recipe itself is very easy but the sauce does take 1.5hours to simmer and allow the flavours to intensify. You can taste the difference in the sauce though. It is a wonderfully rich and warming meal. A perfect Friday night delight with a bottle of red wine.
As you may have guessed, I love presentation and so I have topped the meatballs with some crispy sage leaves and parmesan shavings. Not only is this a nice touch but the sage adds an intense herb flavour with a bit of crunch and the tangy parmesan crumbles into very bite.
The recipe is originally a Martin Wishart recipe which I have adapted. Even although this isn’t a remotely Christmas recipe, the colours are beautifully festive and this hearty meal is great on a cold day.
MEATBALLS IN A RICH TOMATO SAUCE WITH PARMESAN AND CRISPY SAGE
Ingredients (6 hungry people):
500g mined lean beef
500g minced pork
150g fresh white breadcrumbs
4 cloves garlic, crushed with salt (this stops the garlic sticking together when it is mixed with the other ingredients)
2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh mixed herbs (I like to use thyme, sage and rosemary but you can use just one or two of these if you prefer), finely chopped
Zest of 1 lemon plus the juice of 1/2
100g fresh parmesan, grated (plus some extra for the garnish)
1/2 tsp pepper
1 large onion, diced
1/2 – 1 red chilli, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed (without salt this time)
1 glass red wine
4 tins tomatoes
4 tbsp tomato puree
500ml vegetable stock
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp caster sugar
Salt and pepper
400 – 600g spaghetti
12 sage leaves (this is enough to top each plate of meatballs with 2 crispy sage leaves)
For the meatballs:
- Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl.
- Shape into meatballs and then place in the fridge to cool for 1 hour.
- Then brown the meatballs in a pan in a little olive oil.
For the tomato sauce:
- Fry the onion, garlic and chilli in some oil until soft. Add a pinch of salt to prevent the onion and garlic from burning. You don’t want the onions to caramelise.
- Add the red wine and allow to reduce until the red wine has completely evaporated.
- Then add all of the remaining ingredients.
- Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer for 1.5 hours.
- Half way through cooking add the browned meatballs.
- Cook the spaghetti as per the instructions on the pack.
- Remove the meatballs from the sauce. Puree the sauce until smooth. Then add the meatballs back into the sauce.
- Pick off a few nice leaves of sage. Pour a layer of vegetable oil about 1cm in depth in a small pan. Once hot, gently place the sage leaves in the pan. Be careful because they will sizzle and some spots of oil may spark out of the pan as the water is sucked out of the sage leaves. Leave in the pan for about 1 minute then remove and place of a piece of kitchen roll to remove any excess oil.
- Warm the plates. I use deep bowls to serve this dish so that it catches extra sauce. Place a spoonful of spaghetti in the centre. Top with the meatballs and then pour over some extra sauce.
- Finally, finish with 1 – 2 leaves of crispy sage and a few shavings of parmesan.