The best spaghetti and meatballs ever
This recipe is from my second bestselling cookbook, Everyday Delicious. Loads of people have told me they’re the best they’ve ever had – including those they’d had from restaurants! So, I can vouch that they’re rather delicious, and worth a go. The alcohol in the red wine will evaporate during cooking so you don’t need to worry about it for kids or if you’re not a wine drinker (just make sure it bubbles vigorously). I prefer Parmesan shaved straight off the block – but you can use tasty cheese if you like. Adding a bit of grated mozzarella to the top of the sauce a few minutes before serving makes it fun to eat, too! For some greenery on the scenery, try adding a grated courgette or some chopped spinach to the sauce before simmering.
Prep time – 30 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes + 20 minutes to set
250g beef mince
250 pork mince (or just use beef mince)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (or use 3/4 cup fresh, made in a food processor)
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves NZ garlic, crushed
1 free-range egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Generous pinch of salt and a good crack of black pepper
1 cup red wine (or use beef stock – but I recommend wine for flavour)
1 1/2 cups beef stock
1/2 cup tomato paste
400g can chopped tomatoes in juice
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons brown sugar
Handful halved ripe cherry tomatoes (optional)
Cooked spaghetti (or your favourite shape pasta, or mash)
Fresh basil leaves, torn
Lots of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Add the mince to a large bowl with the breadcrumbs, onion, garlic, egg, herbs, tomato paste, olive oil and season. Mix gently to combine using clean hands. Shape the mixture into balls slightly bigger than a golf ball. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes to set.
Heat a little oil over a medium-high heat in a large frying pan and brown the meatballs all over (do this in batches). Once browned, remove carefully with tongs and set aside on a plate.
Drain any oil from the pan and return it over a high heat. Add the wine (or stock) and let it bubble for 30 seconds, scraping the pan with a wooden spoon to incorporate all those crunchy caramelised meat juices from the meatballs. Add the stock, tomato paste, tomatoes, oregano, balsamic vinegar and sugar. Stir.
Add the meatballs back to the pan and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened to a thick pasta sauce consistency (it might take longer or less time). Turn the meatballs over once or twice. Add the cherry tomatoes (if using) and simmer another minute or so. Season with salt and pepper, until it tastes right to you.
Just before you drain the pasta, try reserving 1/4 of a cup of the cooking water. Stir that water through the sauce just before you toss it with the pasta (it helps the sauce stick to the pasta).
Toss the sauce through the just-cooked drained spaghetti in the spaghetti cooking pot. Add to serving bowls and sprinkle with cheese and basil. Serve with a side salad, or veges.
Tips & tricks from Chels
- Browning the meatballs first is important as it adds to the flavour of the dish.
- Be careful when frying the meatballs as they can fall apart if you’re not gentle.
- Kids love mince, and it loves them too – providing a protein boost for growth.