Italian Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Friday, February 12, 2010

These Italian meatballs are one of my favorite dishes and are a regular fixture of our weekend dinner line-up. I'm usually to be found in the kitchen from about 5pm chopping and measuring. There's generally food on the table by the time the X-Factor starts, or sometimes by the time Harry Hill's TV Burp starts, if the meatball aroma is exceptionally nice! I use minced turkey to greatly reduce the fat content, but they also work fine with extra lean beef mince.   

The following recipe makes two generous portions of meatballs.

For the meatballs
• 250g lean turkey mince
• 2 x slices of Weightwatchers whole meal bread, blitzed with a hand blender.
• 1 beef stock cube, crumbled (I know it's turkey, it just works!)
• ½ teaspoon of dried garlic
• 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
• 2 teaspoons of dried parsley
• 15g grated parmesan cheese
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ½ teaspoon black pepper
• 1 medium egg, lightly beaten
• 1 dash of worcestershire sauce
• 4 sprays of Fry Light One Cal spray oil for frying

To make the meatballs
  1. Add the turkey, breadcrumbs, stock cube, seasonings and cheese to a large bowl and combine, breaking the mince into smaller pieces.
  2. Next, add the egg and worcestershire sauce and continue to mix well for a minute or so. If the mixture is a little dry, you can add a small splash of low fat milk. (If the mixture is too wet, you can add a few more breadcrumbs).
  3. To shape the meatballs, I find it's best to wet one hand. Take approximately 1 heaped teaspoon full of the mince mixture and place it in the palm of your wet hand. Use the fingers of your dry hand to roll the mixture into a ball. Continue with the mixture to make approximately 30-35 meatballs. Wet your hand again a couple of times during the process.
  4. I usually store the meatballs on a sheet of tin foil, while preparing the sauce,  but you can make them beforehand and store them in the fridge until your ready. The meatballs will also freeze well at this point.
For the tomato sauce
• 1 x 400 g tin of chopped tomatoes
• 1 teaspoon of tomato puree
• 50g tomato ketchup
• 400ml boiling water
• 2 sweeteners
• 1 chicken stock cube, crumbled
• 1 dash of worcestershire sauce
• 15g grated parmesan cheese
• ½ teaspoon black pepper
• 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
• 1 teaspoon of dried garlic granules
• 2 teaspoons of dried parsley
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 bouquet garni
• 50g mushrooms. Washed/wiped and quartered
• 2 small carrots. Washed, topped, tailed, peeled and roughly chopped
• 2 sticks of celery. Washed, topped, tailed and roughly chopped
• 5g / 1 teaspoon of low fat butter spread
• 1 medium onion. (Red or white onion would work). Peeled and finely chopped
• 2 cloves of garlic. Peeled and finely chopped
• Basil leaves. Roughly torn
• A good twist of black pepper

To complete the dish
  1. Add the tinned chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, ketchup, boiling water, sweeteners and stock cube to a large pot. Turn the heat to a high heat and bring the pot to a boil. Once it’s boiled, reduce the heat to medium and add the parmesan,  black pepper, Italian seasoning, garlic granules, dried parsley, bay leaf and bouquet garni.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan on a high heat and add 2 sprays of oil. Add half the meatballs and fry lightly for 5-8 minutes until they are lightly browned. Shake the pan to ensure all sides are browned. Transfer the meatballs to the tomato sauce.
  3. Add the second 2 sprays of oil and fry the second batch of meatballs. Add these to the sauce.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and add the mushrooms and fry gently for 5 minutes. The mushrooms should soak up any residue left behind by the meatballs. Transfer the mushrooms to the tomato sauce.
  5. Next, add the chopped carrots and fry gently for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned. You should lightly season the carrots with salt and pepper. Transfer the carrots to the tomato sauce.
  6. Then, add the chopped celery to the pan and fry gently for 5 minutes until lightly browned. Again, you should lightly season the celery with salt and pepper. Transfer to the tomato sauce.
  7. Finally, add the butter spread to the pan and, when bubbling, add the onions. Stir gently for 3-5 minutes, until lightly coloured. Then add the garlic and continue to fry for a further minute. Add the onion and garlic mixture to the tomato sauce also. Stir gently to make sure all the additional ingredients are combined, but don't break up the meatballs. Partially cover the pot with a lid and leave to simmer for approximately 1 hour minimum, 1½-2 hours if you can stay away from them! Stir the pot every 30 minutes or so to ensure the sauce is not sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  8. When cooked, remove the bouquet garni and bay leaves. At the basil leaves and black pepper. Divide into two portions and serve with Whole Wheat Pasta.


    A.M Kiely said...

    Darren, this receipe sounds amazing. I know what's on the menu for tomorrow evening!

    Anonymous said...

    Mmmmmh... delish!

    Supper Satisfaction said...

    Hi A.M Kiely
    Thanks for the feedback! Let me know how you get on!

    A.M Kiely said...

    Hey Darren, I made the meatballs on Sunday. They were so scrummy, bursting with flavour. Thanks for the receipe.

    Supper Satisfaction said...

    Hi AM,
    Delighted to hear you enjoyed the meatballs! Keep an eye out for other meatball recipes coming very soon. D

    Brian said...

    I'mma gonna try this one this evening.
    Your recipes and photographs have my salivary glands working overtime here. Out to the shops now. I'll let you know how I get on. Thanks!

    Anonymous said...

    Hi Darren, Dominique tried your recipe three weeks and because there were leftovers, I tasted it, it was divine. I should specify that i am not a meatballs fan but it does work. Laura

    Supper Satisfaction said...

    Hi Laura - Thanks for the feedback and glad you both enjoyed them. ;-)

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