Mary Meatballs

7 February 2011 § 2 Comments

The Ladies™ are not huge carnivores but they have recently discovered meatballs, thanks to the power of television and Olivia the Pig’s love of them. Hang on, isn’t that how we ended up with BSE? Cows eating other animals? Anyway meatballs, made with grass-fed beef have become a weekly staple in our house this winter as the kids love them with spaghetti and we love them with a bottle of red wine. They are such a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs, comfort food, perfect to keep the cold at bay. The sauce is really rich as it has been cooked twice. If there are any left (no chance in our house), they are even better on the second day. Meatballs have taken on an extra dimension thanks to a character that the eldest of The Ladies™ dreamed up. We were back in Wales, driving in the car and she started this bizarre chant – a list that went something like “pink pony, big girl’s bike, crayons, drawing pad, doll, books, little kid’s computer, ear muffs, toy unicorn….Mary Meatballs has TOO MANY PRESENTS!!!!”

In case you were wondering Mary Meatballs is a tiny girl who lives in her tummy.

Here is my recipe for meatballs, not sure how authentic it is – I hope I don’t offend any of my Italian friends, but there is never an empty plate.

Meatball Recipe (serves 4)


2 slices stale bread, crusts removed

3 fl oz milk

4 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion chopped

1½ lb lean minced beef (preferably grass-fed)

2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Freshly grated nutmeg

½ pint dry white wine

2 x  13 oz can chopped tomatoes

2 bay leaves

Salt and pepper

Basil leaves

Buttered spaghetti, to serve

Chop the bread up small and leave to soak with the milk in a large bowl. Heat the oil and fry the garlic and onions for 5 minutes until soft and just beginning to brown. Combine the meat with the onion and garlic, the Parmesan, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Work together with your hands until the mixture is well mixed and smooth.

Roll the mixture into 28 even-sized balls. Heat the remaining oil in a large nonstick frying pan and brown the meatballs in batches, then transfer to a shallow, ovenproof dish.

Pour the wine and tomatoes into the frying pan and bring to the boil, scraping up any sediment from the bottom of the pan. Add the bay leaves, season with salt and pepper and boil rapidly for 5 minutes.

Pour the sauce over the meatballs, cover with foil and bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for one hour or until tender. Serve with buttered spaghetti and garnish with basil leaves.


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