27 January 2009

Spaghetti and Meatyballs

The Best Spaghetti and Baked Meatballs ever!


  • 500 grams of lean beef mince
  • 2 finely chopped cloves of garlic
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • handful of basil leaves roughly chopped
  • handful of grated parmesan
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Chuck all the ingredients together in a bowl and mix thoroughly by hand – then, using your hands, make smalls balls with a diameter of about 2.5 – 3cm’s. Place these balls on a baking tray and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180° Celsius for 10 minutes. The idea here is that the meatballs must be slightly undercooked because the balance of the cooking will take place when you add the meatballs to the tomato sauce and you don’t want to end up with dry tasteless balls, but rather juicy tender taste bombs. Like a decent steak, rather rare than well-done.

Homemade Tomato Sauce:

You’ll need:

  • 2 garlic cloves – peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 onion – with the skin off, cut into thin slices
  • 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • knob of butter
  • 2 anchovy fillets (they’re expensive but critical and a jar can last for months in the fridge)
  • 4 vine-ripened plum tomatoes, washed, roughly chopped up, skin and all
  • 1 x tin whole peeled tomato’s

In a saucepan, fry the garlic and onion in the olive oil and butter until the onions are translucent. Add the fresh and canned tomatoes. Using your fingers, break up the anchovies into the pan. Let this cook for about half an hour on low heat (it must simmer not boil) until the fresh tomatoes have disintegrated into the sauce. NB - give the sauce the odd occasional stir and break up any whole pieces of tomatoes with your wooden spoon.

While the sauce is cooking up, make the pasta.

Homemade Pasta:

This isn’t rocket science but the taste of fresh pasta is well worth the effort and once you’ve tasted it, there’s no going back.

  • 1 egg (free range and organic)
  • 1 cup of cake flour

Place the flour onto a flat clean surface and make a well in the centre (think of a volcano). Break the egg into the centre and using your fingers, gently mix the egg into the flour. Once the egg has been absorbed into the flour, knead the dough for about 10 minutes. If it’s too dry, add a splash of water, too wet, sprinkle with flour. It should have a rich golden colour and the texture of play dough. Wrap the dough in some cling wrap and refrigerate for about 20 minutes. Now would be a great time to check on your sauce. Taste it first – you might want to add another anchovy fillet, but that’s entirely up to you.

Sprinkle some flour on your work surface to keep the dough from sticking. Using your hands, make a small ball from the dough. Flatten it out using a rolling pin or wine bottle. Working slowly, keep rolling the pasta out until you have a thin even sheet of pasta that’s almost translucent. As thin as you can gents because when you finally cook the pasta it will double in thickness. Once you’ve rolled out the pasta sheet, cut the pasta into thin strips about half a centimetre wide and hang over the back of a chair to dry a bit.

Cook the pasta in a pot of salted, boiling water. Since it’s fresh, it will cook in about three minutes. This is very important: Fresh Pasta has way less gluten than commercial dry pasta, so it’ll become soggy and soft if you overcook - so watch like a hawk and check often.

To Serve:

Drop all of your meatballs into the tomato sauce, stir gently, and simmer for 5 minutes. Then, cover the pasta with tomato sauce and meatballs. Smother in grated Parmesan cheese and a twist or two of black pepper and serve with a green salad on the side.

PS: with Pasta, the idea is that the pasta is really just a vehicle to coat with cool flavours.


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