Homemade meatballs with tomato sauce

Saturday 20 February 2010

My second recipe of this blog it's also from my mum, although I include now some variations.
How to do meatballs was the second thing my mum teached me (after cooking "pasta a la bolognesa"). Although I'm not Italian, as you can see these recipes are really common in the whole Mediterranean area.

The recipe that I'm explaining it's quite easy to do, after you do it a first time. You can use any meat you prefer: chicken, beef, pork... My mum always did it with both chicken and turkey. I, in Ireland, use normally Irish beef that has really good quality, but this time I used pork instead. A friend told me that the original one (the Italian one) mixes beef + pork.

Here we go:

DIFFICULTY: Easy/Intermediate

CALORIES: Depending of the kind of meat and the sauce, I would say this one had 500-600 KCal per person.

INGREDIENTS: (2 persons + leftovers)


400-500 gr of mince meat (choose: pork/beef/chicken/ chicken + turkey/ pork + beef)
1 or 2 eggs
Breadcrumbs (just a bit)
1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced
A handful of pinenuts
Parlsey (better fresh than dry)
Flour (just a bit)
Olive oil (*I use instead Low fat Oil Spray to fry the meat balls)
Salt and pepper

1 onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced or into chunks
Can of chopped tomatoes (+ 1 dessert spoof of sugar + 1 salt) or tomato puree or passata
Olive oil
Tabasco (Optional)


Let's prepare the meatballs first:

In a big bowl mix the mince meat add the eggs (I used 1 egg for 400 g of meat, depends how much meat you have or if it's too dry then you can use more eggs).
Add salt and pepper.
Add the breadcrums, until you feel that is a consistent doug. You can use a wooden spoon to mix it but it's much better to do it with you hands, so you feel the texture.
Add the garlic, pinenuts and parsley, and mix again.

My trick: I know that the doug is ready whenever I can do a consistent ball (giant meatball!)

Prepare small balls (smaller than golf balls) as it's easier to cook them, and you'll have more too :)

Pass all the balls through flour (although you can do it just right before you add them in the pan).

The meatballs, uncooked

Whenever you have all the meatballs ready to add to the pan, I recommend you to begin to do the sauce:
Dice the onion and the red pepper.
With a bit of olive oil, fry the onion first, and after 2-3 min then add the pepper. Add a bit of salt and leave it frying at a low heat.

Fry the meatballs:
Sprinkle another pan with olive oil or low fat spray.
Pass the meatballs by flour (if you haven't done it yet) and cook them in batches (normally I do 2 batches), at a medium-high heat.
When a batch of meatballs are cooked I reserve them in a sauce pan with kitchen paper on the base - so it sucks the rest of oil-, and cover with a lid to keep it warm (no need to put it on the heat).

When you are almost finishing the last batch of meatballs, go back to the sauce and add the tomato puree or the chopped tomatoes can (if using natural chopped tomatoes, remember to add salt and sugar to neutralise the sourness of the tomato). Increase the heat to medium-high.
I like to add now some drops of tabasco so it tastes a bit nicer, but it's up to you. ^_^

When all the meatballs are cooked add them to the sauce. Finally cook all together for 5 min. The meatballs are ready to serve!

**LOW FAT VERSION**: If you are in a strict low fat diet, you still can do this recipe. I just recommend you some small variations in this case:
- Just use 1 egg, or only the white of the eggs
- Don't use pinenuts.
- Don't pass the meatballs trough the flour.
- Instead of frying them appart, cook them in the sauce.
- For the sauce, use a low fat spray or cook the onion and pepper with white wine instead of oil.

The day I cooked the meatballs I accompained them with a side salad made with: lettuce, carrot, orange (mandarines), raisins and sunflower seeds.

But the best way to eat the meatballs is with a crunchy bagette, so you can dunk the bread into the lovely sauce! Mmmmm...

Bon profit! Enjoy!

Mamaaa! I cooked meatballs the other day!

Valencian paella

Monday 15 February 2010

It's a high level recipe to start with, but I just did it this weekend. ^_^

Please be aware that this recipe is for the authentic Valencian Paella that is made with vegetables and meat (pork, chicken and rabbit). Or at least this is how has been done at my home for generations. The authentic Valencian Paella doesn't contain seafood ;)

DIFFICULTY: Moderate/High

CALORIES: A lot, but as part of balance diet (We used to eat paella every Sunday at home)

INGREDIENTS: (2-4 persons *)

*I'm not good with amounts, but I used these measures for 2 persons and we had some leftovers for the next day.

1 red pepper (cut into chunks)
2 handfuls of green beans or sweet green beans
1 artichoke (just the heart, optional)
1 tomatoe puree can (natural tomatoes in can, you can buy it in Tesco)
White wide beans *bajocons or garrofons in catalan (half a pot, optional)
Frozen peas (3 handfuls)
Mangetouts (1 handful)

400 g of pork ribs (cut in small pieces)
Chicken tights and legs (the amount depends for how many people)

(The original recipe contains rabbit but as I cannot find it in Ireland and I'm not really a fan of rabbitI didn't include it.)

Olive oil
Spear mint (brought from home)

PREPARATION: (around 2 h. or more, be patient!)

(All the cooking is done in a high heat)

Heat the olive oil in the paella pan (if you don't have a paella pan, use the biggest pan -no wok- you have).
Add salt to all the meat and fry it in the pan.
Once the meat is cooked, add the red pepper, beans and artichoke.
Once the vegs look cooked, add the natural tomato (as it's natural tomato you might "kill" the sourness adding a dessert spoon of salt and another of sugar).
Leave it to cook-simmer for 20 min.
Once the tomato looks cooked, add water to the pan until nearly covering and add the frozen vegs (peas) and white wide beans.
Leave it cooking/boiling until half of the water is gone (30 min).
Add water till the top and then add the safron (not a lot, is just to colour, the taste is really strong).
Add also the mangetouts (I add them nearly at the end because they cook really fast).
Leave it boiling a bit (15-20 min) and then taste it (maybe you need more salt).

And here comes the difficult part:
When you are happy with the taste of the broth is the time to add the rice.

The general rule is: double measure of water than measure of rice. But this rule doesn't apply to the paella because you need more water (that evaporates). My mum always explained me that you should add the rice making a cross shape in the pan, in a way that you see a litlle hill of rice above all the broth and vegs. This is why I consider it the most difficult part!
The tip is to always put less rice than you think, so you avoid the rice being burnt or too raw. If you measured the water that you added previosuly, you also can add a bit less than the half of the water measurement :S (I don't know if I explained myself well, sorry for my English).

Once you do "the cross hill" with the rice, spread it all trough the pan, so every inch of it has some rice.
Now add some spear mint and leave the rice to drink up all the broth.

At the end, if you think that the rice might be raw, turn off the heat and cover the paella pan (with paper foil for example). Before, add some natural parsley on the top of the rice, and wait a few minutes (5-10 min) with the pan covered.

You can serve the paella with some lemon wedges aside. And my recommendation is to eat directly from the pan, it's more tasteful!

Bon profit! Enjoy!

My paella didn't have a lot of rice, but it was lovely anyway!

Mama! I cooked paella last Sunday!

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