Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Tomato and Basil Meatballs
Food has an amazing way of causing reminiscences. Just the smell can send you to a particular time or place. The taste brings back a flood of memories. I have so many of these, but one of the funniest is meatballs. You see I can't even hear the word meatball without my brain kicking into singing the meatball song. Do you remember the meatball song? If not, check out this excellent version on YouTube.
Anyway, I must have sung the meatball song about a hundred times as I cooked up my version of spaghetti and meatballs. It is a time consuming dish to make, but so worth it and give that it freezes really well you can easily double the portions. Do take the time to refrigerate your meatballs after you have made them, they set much better and do brown them well, it adds a lovely depth of flavour to the final dish.
Do you have any special food/memory connections?
Tomato and Basil Meatballs
Makes 6ish serves
500g beef mince
4 tablespoons basil, finely sliced
1 onion, finely diced
1 onion diced
2 sticks of celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
2 cans diced tomatoes
splash red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons basil sliced
pepper to taste
To make the meatballs: mix together the mince, basil, onion, egg and enough breadcrumbs that the mix isn't sticky but holds together nicely. Roll roughly two tablespoonfulls of the mixture into meatballs. Put on a large plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour.
To make the sauce: Heat a heavy saucepan till medium/hot (I like to use my Chasseur cast iron casserole). Heat some olive oil and brown the meatballs in batches. I find it works best by not putting too many meatballs in at once and then just shaking the pot periodically, once they are browned enough on a side they will roll around easily. If you try to move them with tongs etc they tend to break. Between batches make sure you remove any little bits of onion, meat etc that have fallen off the meatballs and you will probably have to add some more olive oil.
Once they are all browned, set them aside. Add some more olive oil to the pan along with the onion, celery and carrots and cook till all are softened and lightly coloured. Add the garlic and cook till fragrant.
Add the tomato paste and stir to coat all the vegies, then add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan to make sure all stuck bits are lifted. Add the canned tomatoes, red wine vinegar, basil and pepper, stir to combine, then add in the meatballs and turn the heat down to a low simmer. If the mix is looking too dry you can add some more red wine.
Simmer for at least 30 minutes (an hour is better) and serve on top of spaghetti, all covered with (parmesan) cheese.
This dish also freezes really well.