On Saturday evening I had my friend Neil over for dinner, wine and a spot of comedy and so it gave me the opportunity to explore another recipe from my new Greek cookbook. I figured that you can’t go wrong with meatballs and so I settled on this one. It also gave me the opportunity to use up the remainder of the fresh tagliatelle that I had in the fridge.
The meatballs themselves are fairly easy to make – they just need to be done at least 30 minutes before you start cooking so that the mixture can rest for a bit beforehand.
For the meatballs
1 small onion
1 spring onion
2 garlic cloves
A handful of parsley leaves, finely chopped
350g of pork mince
½ a teaspoon of dried Greek oregano (I couldn’t find any dried oregano that positively identified itself as Greek so I just used a little finely chopped fresh oregano instead)
¾ of a teaspoon of salt
2 slices of white bread, without crusts
A little milk
A knob of butter and some olive oil for frying
For the sauce
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
A pinch of salt
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
100ml of red wine
200g of passata
¼ of a teaspoon of allspice
½ a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
½ a teaspoon of sweet paprika
Shavings of pecorino cheese for garnish
To make the meatballs chop the onion, spring onion, garlic and parsley very finely. (the recipe suggests using a food processor but I just did it by hand)
Mix in to the minced pork, oregano and salt and pepper, using your hands to make sure that everything is well combined.
Soak the slices of bread in the milk for 5 minutes and then mash the bread to pulp. Mix the bread pulp into the meatball mixture. Mix thoroughly and then set aside, covered, for 30 minutes.
To make the sauce, warm the olive oil in a large saucepan over a low heat. Add the onion and salt and cook for 8 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Increase the heat, pour in the wine and allow to bubble for a couple of minutes. Add the allspice, pepper and paprika and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes.
Add the passata, bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Add a little more passata, or a splash of hot water, if it looks like it’s getting too dry.
Whilst the sauce is cooking, shape the meat mixture into balls – you should be able to make about 16 balls.
Heat the butter and olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and fry the meatballs until cooked though. (It can be tricky to get them cooked all the way through without them burning on the outside so a low heat is good and turn them regularly to ensure even cooking.)
When cooked transfer them to the saucepan with the sauce and gently toss them in until well covered.
I served them on a bed of cooked fresh tagliatelle with some garlic bread and garnished with shavings of pecorino cheese. Tasty! The allspice and paprika give the past sauce an interesting flavour which is a little different from normal.