I had a realisation this week, I cannot be the only one of us out there on the inter webs that has a full time job, a commute, and has to make dinner when I get home. There must be more of you out there too right?
From this thought stemmed an idea, I am on a mission to avoid pre-packed ready meals, I have been on this mission ever since we moved into this house a year ago. We pretty much make everything from scratch, no microwaves, this means I am getting darn good at quite a few recipes that I can whip up in an evening once I have got home from work, and I thought it might be nice to share my favourites.
So here is midweek meal number 1, a classic, spag and meatballs in a tomato pasta sauce. This one is pretty simple, so please excuse me for starting with the basics, but I take it that extra step by making my own meatballs. I prefer pork over beef for these, and if you aren't a picky eater like James you could even try turkey, either way, the spice combo I use adds a little something extra.
You will need:
Packet of Pork Mince, depends on your portion sizes, but I used 500g for two people (10 meatballs)
1/2 tsp Fennel Seeds
1/2 tsp Paprika
Small red chilli
3 Garlic cloves
1/2 red onion
2 or 3 Vine ripened tomatoes
400g chopped tomatoes
Pasta of choice
Fresh basil and parmesan to serve.
- Prep your meatballs, take your pork mince out of the fridge as soon as you get home so it can warm up a bit, after you have made your warm drink of choice and sorted other bits and bobs like feeding the ginger meowing thing at your feet, checked the post, you can get started.
-Take the fennel seeds and paprika, chilli, a clove of garlic and some salt and pepper. Cut the chilli open and remove the pith and seeds, skin one of your garlic cloves and chop in a mini blender, if you don't have one chop your chilli and garlic finely and grind your seeds in a pestle and mortar.
- In a bowl, mix your seasoning in with your pork along with one whole egg by hand. When it begins to stick start to form the mix into meatballs. Set aside until you are ready for them.
- Take a large shallow pan with a knob of unsalted butter and a splash of olive oil on a medium heat. Slice half a red onion, don't cross cut it, we want the texture to add substance to our sauce. Add to the pan.
-Chop one large or two small garlic cloves (3 if you are me and love the garlic) add to the pan and stir. Let onions and garlic brown while you take a couple of vine ripened tomatoes and chop them roughly, I used three. We want good tomatoes here to add a different tomatoey dimension to the flavour. Add them to the pan along with a sprinkle of salt, I use Malden Smoked Sea Salt, and a good grinding of black pepper.
- Let the tomatoes almost brown, when they start to catch on the edges tuck your meatballs into your mix. Do not, I repeat do not, move them. You want them to go a lovely golden brown on the underside, that won't happen if you move them. Don't worry about stirring, the fat that they release should keep everything else from sticking.
- After a few minutes, peek under one meatball, if it looks golden brown, start flipping them over, again, once flipped don't touch them until they brown again. Once golden, add a splash of balsamic vinegar, stir and then add your carton of chopped tomatoes.
- Let the sauce reduce and get your pan of pasta on, don't forget to salt and oil your water!
- Once your sauce is at your desired consistency (around ten minutes), taste and check for seasoning. Add a small amount of the starchy water from your pasta into the sauce to make it silky and serve over-top your pasta. Sprinkle with freshly torn basil and grate over some parmesan.
My extra little tip is to make a huge batch of the meatballs at once (obviously increase your seasonings accordingly), freeze them uncooked on a tray and then transfer to a bag to take out as required.
What are your favourite meals to make on weeknights?