Baked smoky meatballs
- February 2018
- Serves 6-8
- Hands-on time 1 hour, simmering time 25 min, oven time 5-6 min
”Whether they’re piled on top of spaghetti, wrapped in a sub or, like these, served with cheesy polenta, you just can’t go wrong with meatballs.” – the late food writer Valli Little
Recipe from My Kind of Food by Valli Little (ABC Books), published in Australia.
- 36g (12.6g saturated)
- 55g (8.9g sugars)
- 100ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to grease
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tbsp tomato purée
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
- 1 tbsp chipotle chilli paste
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 250ml beef stock
- 200g prosciutto or streaky bacon, very finely chopped
- 800g British beef mince
- 60g fresh breadcrumbs
- 1 medium free-range egg, beaten
- 100g hard mozzarella, grated
- 25g pecorino or parmesan, grated, plus extra to serve
- 60g panko breadcrumbs
- 400g instant polenta
- 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh flatleaf parsley
- Heat 60ml of the oil in a large, deep frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and oregano, then cook for 5-6 minutes until the onions have softened and turned golden. Spoon half the mixture into a mixing bowl and set aside to cool. Add the tomato purée to the remaining onion mixture in the pan along with the vinegar, chopped tomatoes, chilli paste, brown sugar and stock. Bring to a simmer over a low heat, season, then cook for 15 minutes.
- Add the prosciutto or bacon, mince, fresh breadcrumbs and egg to the cooled onions in the mixing bowl. Season and combine well. With damp hands, form the mixture into walnut-size balls and put on a tray.
- Heat the remaining 40ml oil in a clean frying pan over a medium-high heat. Fry the meatballs in batches, turning often, for 4-5 minutes until golden all over. Transfer them to the sauce and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6. Mix the mozzarella, pecorino and panko breadcrumbs in a bowl.
- To serve, prepare the polenta to the pack instructions, then spread onto a greased baking tray, top with the meatballs and sprinkle with the cheesy breadcrumb mixture. Bake for 5-6 minutes until the cheese has melted and the crumbs are crisp. Scatter with the chopped parsley.
Prepare the meatballs up to 48 hours in advance, then cover and chill. To serve, top with the cheese breadcrumbs, then bake as in the recipe.
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