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John Whaite's pork & beef meatballs with spiced wine & breadcrumbs
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Meatballs are so often bland, but by using the meat from inside sausages there’s no concern about the flavour, as the seasoning will already be just perfect. The sauce here is a meat sauce as opposed to a tomato-based one, and so the milk is vital for making it velvety and slightly tangy
Serves: 6 - 8
For the Meatballs
400g pack 6 Waitrose Toulouse Sausages
340g pack 12 Waitrose Aberdeen Angus Beef Chipolatas
Sunflower oil, for frying
200g smoked bacon lardons
1 stick celery, finely sliced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp plain flour
1-2 tsp mixed spice
400ml red wine
500ml beef stock
300ml whole milk
1 sprig rosemary
For the Topping
150g fresh breadcrumbs
½ x 25g pack parsley, roughly chopped
Leaves from 1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped
50g Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, finely grated
125g pack mozzarella, grated
1 For the meatballs, squeeze the meat from the sausage and chipolata casings into a mixing bowl. Combine the meat together well – I just use my hands – then divide into 24 meatballs, slightly smaller than a ping pong ball.
2 Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large, ovenproof saucepan or casserole over a medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the meatballs and fry them for 1 minute per side, just until lightly coloured. You don’t need to cook the meatballs through at this stage, and doing so will only make them dry. Remove them from the pan using a slotted spoon, and set aside until needed.
3 In the same pan, over a medium-high heat, add the bacon lardons and fry for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fat seeps out and the bacon is ever so slightly coloured. Add the celery, carrot and onion and fry, stirring frequently, for a good 15 minutes until very soft. Increase the heat to high and add the flour and spice, stirring to combine, then add the red wine, beef stock, milk and rosemary. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally to stop it all catching on the bottom of the pan, and cook the sauce rapidly for at least 20-30 minutes or until it is thickened and reduced by half. As it boils, the gravy will be very cloudy and a foam will probably form on top – I always scrape this off with a slotted spoon. It will look an unappetising mess at first, but as it reduces and thickens, it will transform. Season to taste.
4 Preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Drop the meatballs back into the reduced gravy. Combine all the topping ingredients, except the mozzarella, and sprinkle the mixture all over the top of the meatballs and gravy. Bake for 20 minutes, then sprinkle over the mozzarella and bake for a further 10 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is molten and bronzed.
Typical values per serving:
This recipe was first published in December 2017.