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 mixing bowl, mix in the soaked breadcrumbs, onion, lamb, eggs, seasoning and nutmeg until throughly combined.
Shape into 32 meatballs, using wet fingers. Just keep a small bowl of water nearby. (Fingers dipped in flour will just become sticky.) Chill the meatballs for 1 hour to firm up.
Heat half the butter in a frying pan/skillet over a medium heat. When the butter is frothy and hot, add half the meatballs. Shake them in the pan to keep them moving and cook until browned all over, about 5 minutes. Remove, using a slotted spoon, and transfer them to the casserole dish. Repeat with the remaining meatballs, adding extra butter if needed.
Add the stock to the pan and scrape off any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Bring to the boil, then stir in the mustard. Pour over the meatballs, cover the dish 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.
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, crusts removed and torn into pieces
120ml (4 fl oz) whole milk (½ cup)
500g (1lb 2 oz) 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 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 × 700ml bottle passata
2 bay leaves
120ml (4 fl oz) whole milk (½ cup)
salt and pepper
A large sauté pan with lid
a green salad or Caesar salad
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 dish to cool.
Put the bread in a shallow dish and cover with the milk.
Next 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. Stir in the passata then add the bay leaves and season. Cover and gently simmer for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the lamb in a large bowl and add the bread, discarding any milk. Put half the parsley on a chopping board, sprinkle over the dried oregano and chop the parsley finely. (This will activate the oregano.) Add the herbs to the mince with the egg, Parmesan cheese, cooled onion and some pepper. Mix together until well combined. Make into 20–24 meatballs and flatten them slightly. Place on a baking tray lined with clingfilm and refrigerate for 20 minutes to firm up.
When the sauce has cooked for 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 spatula 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.
The meatballs, vegetables and sauce are best prepared before starting to cook the dish.
For the meatballs
Mix the pork, garlic and breadcrumbs and season well. Divide mixture to make 24 balls, put them on a plate and cover. Refrigerate to firm up a little while preparing the vegetables and making up the sauce.
De-seed and slice the peppers, peel and slice the carrots, crush the garlic cloves and peel and grate the ginger. Set to one side.
For the sauce
Squeeze the juice from the orange and pour into a small bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and whisk well to combine.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a frying pan/skillet and brown the meatballs over a medium heat, for about 5 minutes. Shake the pan frequently so they brown all over. Remove from the pan and place on kitchen paper in a single layer so any fat can be absorbed.
Add the remaining oil to the pan, add the pepper and carrot, and stir-fry for 5 minutes to soften a little. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook for a further minute.
Pour in the sauce, stir and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, add the meatballs and simmer for 15 minutes.
1 organic stock cube/1 tsp chicken bouillon mixed in 300ml/10 fl oz hot water
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper
200g/7 oz spaghetti (my favourite is the De Cecco range)
Half a small Savoy cabbage 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.)
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 has been well combined, shape into 30 meatballs. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm up.
Heat a little oil in a frying pan and add the meatballs in batches to brown. Remove.
Add a little more oil to the pan and add the chopped onion and cook gently for 5 minutes until softened. Add the remaining garlic and sage, and cook for a further 2 minutes. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, stock, sugar, a pinch of crushed chillies, and season. Bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer for 10 minutes to reduce the sauce a little. Return the meatballs to the pan and simmer, covered for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in plenty of salted boiling water with a splash of olive oil, adding the cabbage or other green vegetable for the last 4 minutes of cooking. Drain.
Serve the spaghetti alongside the meatballs and sauce.