Meatballs are a classic family favourite and numerous recipe variations attest to their popularity. Add extra veggies to the simmering sauce - some baby spinach leaves or celery works well. Different pasta shapes add variety too. Perhaps you like a super thick sauce or prefer a softer consistency - just adjust the amount of stock you add. This recipe also makes for great leftovers the next day - if you manage to keep any aside!
|Pork and Fennel Meatballs by Feed Your Inner Cook|
Preparation 20 minutes
Cooking 40 – 50 minutes
Serves 4 - 5
500 gram Pork mince
3 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 onion – very finely diced
1 egg – beaten
½ cup – ¾ cup of breadcrumbs. Add gradually. Might not need all.
¼ cup parmesan cheese – grated
Pepper and a little salt. More will be added later in the sauce.
Splash Olive Oil
2 cloves garlic – crushed
2 onions – finely diced
400 gram can Tomato puree
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 - 2 cups Salt reduced chicken stock. (add 1 cup to start then add rest as needed)
1 teaspoon ground Fennel
Freshly ground Pepper and a little salt to taste. I like adding lots of pepper to this!!
50 gram grated parmesan
Handful flat-leaf parsley – chopped
1 lemon – zest NB only ½ of this lemon is needed for juice
A few basil leaves if available
2 cups pasta - cooked in separate saucepan (or more – depends on preferred serving size)
To make meatballs:
In a deep bowl - Use your hands to combine mince, fennel seeds, onion, breadcrumbs, parmesan, salt, pepper and egg. Only add ½ cup breadcrumbs to start. If mixture still too wet – add another ¼ cup. Depends on the wateriness of the mince. NB Use a light movement, compressing the mixture would result in hard tough meatballs.
Lightly roll the mixture into balls, about the shape of a walnut. Put on a plate and refrigerate for 15 minutes if possible
Heat a little olive oil in a large wide frypan (you will use it later to cook the sauce and meatballs together)
Add the meatballs and brown on all sides. Remove and set aside while you start cooking the sauce.
Add the onions and garlic to the pan and gently cook until onions soften
Stir in the tomato puree, chicken stock (1 cup to start), ground fennel and balsamic vinegar and simmer. Add a little more of the stock as it simmers.
Return the meatballs to the pan and coat gently in the sauce.
Taste the sauce and add pepper and salt to your taste.
Gently simmer for 20 – 30 minutes until sauce has thickened. If sauce becomes too thick, thin with a little of the pasta cooking water. The starch from the pasta will help thicken the sauce if needed.
In the meantime, cook the pasta according to packet directions. Use a kettle to boil the water, then add to a saucepan for cooking the pasta. This speeds up the water boiling time. Allow 15 min or less.
When cooked, drain the pasta and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta cooking water for the sauce if necessary.
Return the cooked pasta to the saucepan – toss over the juice of ½ a lemon and some of the parsley.
Serve the cooked meatballs and sauce with the lemony pasta.
Garnish as desired with the grated parmesan, lemon zest and a few chopped parsley or basil leaves.