Quick and Easy Meatballs

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Who doesn’t love a good meatball? That juicy, meaty flavour that marries oh so well with a rich and fruity marinara sauce. Too often it’s seen as a kids dinner but there’s just something really special about spaghetti and meatballs that makes it totally irresistible at any age.

Like many of my favourite Italian dishes, this pork and beef meatball recipe grew from watching my nan cook on a Sunday afternoon. I’m so lucky to have grown up around good food. It’s never necessarily been expensive but it has always been incredibly delicious and most importantly, made from scratch.

I think meatballs are a fantastic way to satisfy your carnivore cravings without going meat crazy because you don’t need a huge amount keep everyone happy. I also find the dish goes much further if I roll my meatballs on the smaller side but in all honesty, the size of your balls is up to you.

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Freezing
Meatballs are a great dish to make in advance and freeze if you don’t have the time to cook from scratch every day and lets be honest, most people don’t. This recipe makes a decent amount of meatballs for 4 people but if you’re on your own, it’s super simple to portion some off for future meals.

I know a lot of people have a preference for either crispy or soft meatballs and I have to admit, I’m in the softy clan.

If you are planning on freezing your meatballs, you can either freeze them cooked in a marinara sauce or freeze them raw on their own.If you try to freeze them cooked without sauce, they tend to dry out when thawed.

However you choose to freeze your meatballs, ensure they’re sealed in an air tight container to preserve freshness.

Substitutions
I’ve actually substituted the beef in the recipe for 100% pork mince a couple of times and whilst the meatballs are a little harder to roll, (pork mince is ‘mushier’), they still taste fantastic. In fact, they offer a much sweeter, lighter taste and are great for when you’re craving meatballs but want to avoid anything too heavy.

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Ingredients for pork and beef meatballs (for four people)

  • 250g of beef mince.
  • 250g pork mince.
  • 1 medium egg.
  • 3 1/2 tbsp dried breadcrumbs.
  • 1 1/2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan.
  • 1 tsp dried Italian herbs.
  • 1 tsp black pepper.
  • 2 tbsp olive oil.
  • A pinch of salt.

Method

Place your mince in a large mixing bowl (one of those pyrex ones will do the trick) and chuck in your egg, breadcrumbs, parmesan, herbs and black pepper.

Get your hands in the bowl and give it a good mix. Don’t bother with a spoon because you wont be able to blend the ingredients properly and you might end up with clumps of egg or breadcrumb.

Next, you’ll want to roll your meatballs into even sized balls and set them aside ready for frying. The number of meatballs you make will vary greatly depending on how big or small you like them.


Top tips: I find that wetting my hands before I start minimises the amount of mixture that sticks to my palms, making it easier to roll.

I also find that I achieve a better shape by using the cavernous part of my hands and continually rolling the mixture in a figure of 8.


At this stage, you’ll want to add your olive oil to the frying pan and allow it to reach a medium heat. If you haven’t done so already, get your meatballs to room temperature before frying, as this will improve the texture and juiciness of the meat.

Once your oil is well heated, add some (not all) of your meatballs to the pan. You should fry in batches so that your pan isn’t overcrowded and your meatballs have enough room to cook evenly.

Fry each batch of meatballs for around 10 minutes until they are hot and cooked all the way through. If you like your meatballs extra crispy, leave them on for a couple of extra minutes.

You might have noticed that I haven’t added any salt to the meatballs yet, this is because salt can actually make the meat go tough if you add it too soon. If you want to add salt, you should do it near the end of cooking, just before the meatballs are ready to come out.

After each batch has cooked, lay them on a plate lined with kitchen roll to soak up some of the excess oil. To save on washing up, put each batch one on top of the other with paper in between, rather than using multiple plates.

Once your meatballs are cooked, you can either plate them up right away with your favourite pasta or alternatively, add them to a marinara sauce so they soak up all of that delicious flavour – yummy!

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