A firm favourite with children of all ages. These lamb meatballs flavoured with oregano and Parmesan cheese are cooked in a passata based sauce. Usually served with spaghetti but any pasta you choose will work.
2 slices, about 55g (2 oz) white bread, preferably one day old
120ml (4 fl oz) whole milk (½ cup)
450g (1 lb) lamb mince/ground lamb
14g (½ oz) flat leaf parsley/Italian parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
1 egg, beaten
28g (1 oz) Parmesan cheese, grated (¼ cup)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the tomato sauce
1 small carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 small stick celery, chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled
14g (½ oz) butter (1 tbsp)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 x 700ml bottle passata
2 bay leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
120ml (4 fl oz) whole milk (½ cup)
Pasta and a green salad or Caesar salad
You will also need large sauté pan with lid and a large frying pan/skillet.
Heat the butter and a tablespoon of olive oil in a small pan and, when hot, add the onion and stir to coat. Sprinkle with salt and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes until softened but not browned, stirring occasionally. Remove to a plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb any excess fat and leave to cool.
Now remove the crusts from the bread and tear into pieces. Put the bread in a shallow dish and cover with the milk.
Next for the tomato sauce, put the carrot, celery, and garlic in a food processor and blitz. Put the butter and oil into the sauté pan and, when hot, add the vegetables and stir to coat. Cook over a medium–low heat until soft, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then stir in the passata and add the bay leaves and seasoning. Cover and gently simmer for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile prepare the meatballs. Put the lamb in a large bowl. Squeeze the milk from the bread and discard adding the bread to the lamb. Put half the parsley on a chopping board, sprinkle over the dried oregano and chop the parsley finely. (This will activate the oregano.) Now add the herbs to the lamb with the egg, Parmesan, cooled onion, and some pepper. Mix together until well combined. Make into 20–24 meatballs, flattening them slightly, and place them on a baking tray lined with clingfilm/cling wrap. Refrigerate for 20 minutes to firm up.
When the tomato sauce has cooked for the 20 minutes, stir in the milk and continue to cook gently, uncovered, for a further 10 minutes. Season to taste.
Once the meatballs have firmed up, put two tablespoons of oil into a large frying pan and brown the meatballs all over, about 5 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon and add to the sauce. Cover and cook for a further 20–30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through.
Chop the remaining parsley and, just before serving, sprinkle over the meatballs.
1 x 400g tin (or ½ × 796 ml can) chopped/diced tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato purée/paste
1tsp chicken bouillon, or 1 × organic stock cube, mixed in 300ml (10 fl oz) (⅔ cup) boiling water
1 tsp sugar
200g (7 oz) spaghetti
½ a small Savoy cabbage, finely shredded (or other green leafed vegetable finely shredded*).
*Savoy cabbage in Canada can be very pale and so I prefer to use something like kale. The dark green colour works well with the spaghetti, although it does sound an unusual combination.
You will also need a large lidded frying pan/skillet.
In a large bowl mix together the pork, breadcrumbs, beaten egg, lemon zest, finely chopped onion, half the garlic and half the sage, a pinch of the crushed chillies, and plenty of seasoning. Once everything is well mixed in, shape into 30 meatballs. Then refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm up.
Heat half the oil in the frying pan/skillet and add the meatballs. Brown over a medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally to brown all sides. This may need to be done in two batches. Remove and set aside.
Now add the remaining oil to the pan, reduce the heat, and add the chopped onions. Cook gently for 5 minutes until they have softened. Then add the remaining garlic and sage and cook for a further minute. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato purée/paste, stock, sugar, a pinch of crushed chillies, and season. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer for 5–10 minutes until the sauce has reduced a little.
Return the meatballs to the pan, then gently simmer, covered, for 30 minutes, turning them halfway through.
Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in plenty of salted, boiling water, adding the cabbage or other green vegetable for the last 4 minutes of cooking. Drain.
Serve the spaghetti alongside the meatballs and sauce.
You will also need a large frying pan/skillet and a deep sided casserole dish
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4)
Remove the crusts from the bread and cut into rough pieces. Place in a bowl and moisten with the milk. Mix with a fork to break up into crumbs.
In a large bowl, mix together the soaked breadcrumbs, onion, lamb, eggs, seasoning, and nutmeg until thoroughly combined.
Shape into 32 meatballs, using wet fingers. Just keep a small bowl of water nearby. (Fingers dipped in flour will just become sticky.) Place them on a plate, cover, and chill for 1 hour to firm up.
Heat half the butter in the pan/skillet over a medium heat. When the butter is foaming, add half the meatballs. Shake them in the pan to keep them moving and cook until browned all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer them to the casserole dish using a slotted spoon. Repeat with the remaining meatballs, adding extra butter if needed.
Pour the stock into the panskillet. Bring to the boil, scraping off any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Then stir in the mustard. Pour over the meatballs. Cover the dish with foil and cook above the centre of the oven for 45 minutes.
Mix the crème frâiche and cornflour/cornstarch together in a bowl, then stir into the casserole until well blended. Return to the oven for a further 15 minutes, uncovered, until bubbling. The sauce will become thick.
The meatballs, vegetables and sauce are best prepared before starting to cook the dish.
For the meatballs
Thoroughly mix the pork, garlic, breadcrumbs, and seasoning. Divide mixture to make 24 balls, putting them on a plate, and cover. Refrigerate to firm up a little while preparing the vegetables and making up the sauce.
For the vegetables
De-seed and slice the peppers, peel and slice the carrots on the diagonal, crush the garlic cloves, and peel and grate the ginger. Set to one side.
For the sauce
Squeeze the juice from the orange into a small bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and whisk well to combine.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the pan. Add the meatballs and brown over a medium heat for about 5 minutes. Shake the pan frequently so they brown all over. Remove from the pan and place in a single layer on a plate covered with kitchen paper so any fat can be absorbed.
Next, pour the remaining oil in the pan and add the peppers and carrots. Sauté over a medium heat for 5 minutes to soften a little, stirring frequently. Then stir through the garlic and ginger, and cook for a another minute.
Now pour in the sauce, stir and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and return the meatballs to the pan. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
Serve with rice and sprinkle with paprika to garnish.