There is not much else that screams absolute comfort for me than Italian Meatballs.  Whether paired with spaghetti, or mash, or a large loaf of crusty ciabatta bread, they are a truly versatile meal that is budget friendly, super easy to make and just downright delicious.  I paired this version of Italian Meatballs with creamy, parmesan laced polenta and super sized them so that they were incredibly juicy and tender.  This is definitely one for the kids and if you want to get a bit sneaky for the Rugrats that aren’t of the vegetable liking nature, then you can always add grated vegetables such as carrot and zucchini and they will never know.  Brilliant.

Prep time:  15 Minutes

Cooking time:  40 Minutes + 30 minutes fridge time (minimum)

$$  Medium Budget

Serves 4-6 (depending on portion sizes)

For the Italian Meatballs:

Olive oil for frying

1kg of Pork & Veal Mince 

3 slices of bread, crusts removed and cut into cubes

1/3 cup of milk

3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

1 brown onion, roughly chopped

4 sprigs of fresh oregano, leaves removed and stalks discarded

8 thyme sprigs, leaves removed and stalks discarded

2 tbs of tomato paste

1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese

1 tsp of dried oregano

1 tbs of toasted fennel seeds, ground in a mortar & pestle with a tsp of sea salt

Cracked black pepper

For the Sauce:

2 cloves of garlic, finely minced

1 tsp of dried oregano

1/2 a cup of dry white wine

700ml of tomato passata

1 tsp of sugar

Sea salt & Cracked Pepper

Grated parmesan to serve

Chilli flakes and extra virgin olive oil for sprinkling & drizzling

Chopped fresh parsley or micro herbs for garnish

Creamy Parmesan Polenta or your choice of side to serve

To prepare the Italian Meatballs, place the cubes of bread in a small bowl and pour over the milk.  Allow to soak for about 10 minutes and then mash with the back of a fork until you have a nice wet paste.

Place the onion, garlic, fresh oregano & thyme in a small food processor and blitz until nice and fine.  Place the mince, onion mixture, bread paste, ground fennel seeds, dried oregano, tomato paste, parmesan and cracked pepper in a large mixing bowl.  With clean hands, mash up the mixture until well combined.  It is quite a wet mixture but shouldn’t stick to your hands too much.  Once the Italian Meatball mixture is totally combined, wet your hands and form into balls, the size of your choice.  I made this version somewhere in between the size of a golf ball and tennis ball, a little smaller than the palm of my hand.  Be gentle with them as they are quite delicate at this point.  Place the meatballs on a lined tray and pop them in the fridge for at least half an hour.  This will help them to bind when cooking.

Heat a large heavy based fry pan and add a little oil.  Gently fry the meatballs on both sides (you will need to do this in batches) until golden.  As I said, they are quite delicate so take care when turning and not over crowding the pan will help this.  When golden on both sides, remove and set aside on a tray while you make the sauce.  They won’t be cooked through at this point but will gently poach in the sauce.

To make the sauce, add a little more oil to the pan if needed and gently fry the garlic and oregano for about 1 minute.  Pour in the wine and allow to reduce a little before pouring in the passata.  Season with sugar, salt & pepper and stir to combine while bringing the sauce up to a simmer.  Place the Italian Meatballs back in the pan, pop a lid on and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Remove the lid and flip the meatballs and cook, covered for a further 10 minutes until cooked through.

Serve the meatballs with creamy polenta and sprinkle with fresh parmesan, chilli flakes and herbs.  Drizzle over a little extra virgin olive oil and enjoy!  To serve them with spaghetti I would make them about the size of a golf ball….

If you like these meatballs, you may like to try a more exotic version…….