Meatballs are always a winner in our house. Both children love them and have been wolfing them down since they were weaned.
I’m a bit suspicious of shop bought meatballs after finding a bit of gristle and bone in one once. Since that day i’ve made my own and they a much much tastier in my opinion! Making your own balls also give you control over things like the amount of salt and actual meat that goes into them. I prefer pork rather than beef mince because it the finished balls are less dry. Here is how I like to do it…..
p.s. This is not a super fast dinner so probably not one to decide to do after getting home late. It will take you about an hour to get it one the table.
For the meatballs:
500g lean pork mince
1 medium egg
6 cream crackers
small handful of fresh herbs (whichever are your faves. I like a mixture of marjaram, oregano, rosemary or tablespoon mixed dried herbs
For the sauce:
1 carrot finely grated
1 medium onion finely grated
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
5 or 6 fresh basil leaves optional
2 tins chopped tomatoes
vegetable oil or cooking oil
Add about a table spoon of oil to a large saucepan. Throw in the carrot and onion and cook slowly over a medium heat until softened then add the garlic and cook for a minute or two more.
Add the tinned tomatoes ad a bit of salt and pepper to your taste.
Turn the heat down to a low simmer and leave to cook while you crack on with the balls. Throw the basil leaves into the sauce just before you serve.
You need to break the cream crackers up into a fine ‘crumb’. You can do this my pulsing them in a food processor or you can put them in a food bag wrapped in a towel and give them a good bashing on the work surface or with a rolling pin. I find the kids love doing this job while i’m making the sauce but i’d recommend doubling bagging to avoid spills!
Put the crumbs in a large bowl with the minced pork, beat the egg in a cup and then add that too along with your herbs – finely chopped if they’re fresh. You can add salt and pepper here if you like.
Give it all a good mix together. I think hands are best for this job just make sure you wash them very well before and after.
Once well mixed shape the mixture into golf balls and place on a lined backing tray or a plate.
When they’re all done you can choose your cooking method depending on what suits you. I like a browned crusty outer to my balls so i cook them in a frying pan over a medium heat for about 10-15mins or cooked through. If you like softer, non-crusty balls then gently add them into the tomato sauce. Make sure the sauce is on a very low heat and not bubbling or else your balls will break up. Place a lid over the pot and cook for about 15-20mins or until cooked through with no pink in the middle. If i need to get on with another job i will place the baking tray of balls into the over on 190’C and bake for 20-25mins.
I usually serve these with pasta spirals because its easy for the children to feed themselves. Spirals are easy for babies and toddlers to grab and they’ve got lots of nooks and crannies for the sauce to cling to. They’re also very tasty in a meatball sarnie with a little drizzle of sauce and some grated cheese.