Firstly, this recipe makes A LOT of meatballs, around 34 good-sized meatballs, so they’re perfect for making when you have friends coming around and want something delicious that both the adults and kids will love. You can definitely halve this recipe, but I always make the full amount and freeze half, or we’ll have leftovers in a meatball sub the next day (amazing!). You can, of course, serve these meatballs with pasta, but we love them simply with some sourdough bread and a salad. It’s another one-pan recipe and the meatballs are full of flavour, juicy and so delicious! Give these a try, I’m sure they’ll become your new family favourite.
What you’ll need:
¼ cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 x 400g cans whole peeled tomatoes (1.2kg)
5 slices bread (about 150g), crusts removed
1 cup milk
1 tbs olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1kg beef mince
500g pork mince
2 tsp salt
½ tsp cracked black pepper
3 eggs, lightly beaten
250g grated mozzarella, plus 100g extra for sprinkling over the top
100g finely grated grana padano cheese, or parmesan
⅓ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
fresh basil leaves, to serve
What to do:
Preheat your oven to 200°C.
For the sauce, heat oil in a large oven-proof frypan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant, and ensuring they don’t brown at all. Use kitchen scissors to chop the tomatoes in the cans, then add them to the sauce. Swish the cans around with about 1 cup of water to rinse them out and add it to the pan too. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 25 minutes until reduced by about half and the sauce has thickened. While this is happening you can make your meatballs.
For the meatballs, place the bread in a bowl and cover with milk, allowing it to soak up. Gently squeeze the excess milk out of the bread, not too much, you don’t want it dripping, but you still want the bread to be quite moist. Discard the milk and set the bread aside.
Heat the oil in a small frypan over medium heat and cook for 5 minutes until the onion is soft but not browned. Add the garlic and cook for a further 30 seconds then remove from heat and allow to cool.
Place the beef and pork mince in a large bowl. Add the salt, pepper, egg, mozzarella, grana padano, parsley, bread and the onion and garlic mixture. Mix together well until fully combined (I use my hands for this). Form into about 34 meatballs (weighing about 75g each) ensuring they are the same size so they cook evenly. I use a medium-sized ice cream scoop with a lever to do this, it measures ¼ cup but I pack it quite well and overfill it slightly. Then I transfer them all to a tray and roll them into neat meatballs.
At this point you can freeze half of the meatballs and cook them another time from frozen, simply add an extra 5 minutes to your cooking time once you add them into the sauce. Alternatively, if you’re cooking for a crowd, you can make a big pot of sauce (double the recipe) and bake all of the meatballs on trays in the oven for 15 minutes, then transfer them all into the sauce at the end. I have done this many times.
Once the sauce has reduced, nestle as many meatballs into your pan as it can take, without squashing them. The top halves of the meatballs should be sitting out of the sauce. Transfer to the oven for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle with the extra 100g of mozzarella and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes, or until the meatballs are just cooked and the cheese is lightly golden. Sprinkle with fresh basil leaves, black pepper and serve. So good!