A midweek meal that’s quick and tasty
Spicy pork meatballs in a rich tomato sauce is a winner in your household.
PREP TIME: 10 mins
COOKING TIME: 30 mins
IDEAL FOR: curry night, crowd-pleaser, family
Spicy pork meatballs in a rich tomato sauce
They come in all different varieties.
And are an inexpensive morsel of goodness.
Which is why they’re so versatile.
It’s like having a blank canvas.
All you need to do is add some quality mince (I like pork), some seasoning and your off!
Midweek meals couldn’t be easier.
Or they’re great to whip up for a hungry crowd.
Top tips for making perfect meatballs
Meatballs aren’t difficult to make.
But you can end up with little round, solid, balls of dryness if you’re not careful.
So, here are a few tips so you end up with well-seasoned, juicy and tender meatballs.
Choosing the meat
My favourite is pork because it’s fattier which gives flavour… and moisture.
If I used beef, I’d go 50/50 with pork.
But be careful not to overcook them as they’ll dry out.
2. Keep your meat chilled
If you keep the meat chilled, this will mean the fat in the meat will melt in the pan.
And not beforehand.
You want to keep the fat from melting and breaking down before you cook the meatballs, so keep your meat and ingredients as cold as possible. Make the mixture in a chilled bowl, and if you are adding pre-cooked ingredients like onions, let them cool down completely before adding them in.
3. Add moisture
This is a bit of an obvious one but it’s getting the right balance.
And knowing what best to use to add moisture.
Eggs and binders like breadcrumbs mixed with milk all help with keeping meatballs tender and moist, so don’t skip any of these.
Once you’ve made your meatball mixture.
Take a little test patty and quickly fry it to taste.
Then adjust the seasoning, spices, herbs, if need be.
5. Be gentle
Try not to overwork the meat when forming the meatballs.
If you pack them too tightly then they’ll come out tough.
It’s a messy job but you can oil your hands so that the mixture won’t stick.
Then gently form the meatballs.
6. Bake vs. not fry
It’s up to you really.
But if you fry them until cooked through, they could end up a bit tough.
I prefer to brown them in the frying pan (don’t overcrowd them so you may need to do in batches).
And then finish them off in the sauce you make in the same pan.
Of course, the oven is just as good… but personally you won’t get as much flavour into your sauce.
‘Do’s’ for a perfect meatball
- Do season your meatballs.
- If you’re adding parmesan, then you can use a little less.
- Do add herbs.
- This will make them taste epic.
- Try herbs like parsley, basil, mint, oregano, marjoram, chives.
- Do not use too many eggs or breadcrumbs.
- These are used for binding the meat mix, not adding moisture.
- You only need 1 -2 eggs for 500g (1lb) of meat.
- And for breadcrumbs, use about ½ cup per 500g (1lb).
- Do use your hands to mix the meat and spices etc.
- You have far more control and the gentle touch.
- Do try and make the meatballs all the same size.
- This is so they cook evenly together.
- Do lightly oil your hands.
- This will help stop the meat sticking so much when you roll them into balls.
- Do sear your meatballs.
- But then braise them.
- This way you get a nice brown crust i.e. flavour.
- And then you make your sauce in the same pan.
- This means using the brown bits stuck on the pan to help add flavour to your sauce.
- And when you add the meatballs, they will finish cooking through.
- You can use an oven if you want to brown the meatballs.
- But you won’t benefit from the brown bits in the sauce.
What to serve with your spicy pork meatballs
The natural go-to is spaghetti or some form of pasta.
And that is a nice easy midweek meal with little brainpower needed.
I love it.
But meatballs are the gift that keeps on giving.
These little morsels of juicy goodness can be baked, fried, skewered, used as a main or a side.
You can have them with pasta, rice, pita bread, baguettes, soup or in a noodle broth.
And you can easily freeze them.
So, perfect to make a big batch.
And throw into the freezer for another day.
So, get cracking with your meatball dish.
I highly recommend this recipe with spicy pork meatballs in a rich tomato sauce.
Spicy pork meatballs in a rich tomato sauce
- 6 garlic cloves – 2 x minced (for the meatball mix), the rest thinly sliced (for the sauce)
- 1 handful finely chopped chives
- 1 handful finely chopped parsley
- 125 g full-fat Greek-style yoghurt
- 2 tsp fennel seeds
- 2 tsp hot smoked paprika
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 750 g minced pork
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
- a handful of fresh cherry tomatoes, halved – if you have some lying around (optional)
- 60 ml white wine vinegar
- 700 ml water
- 400 g (1 can), chopped tomatoes
- 1 large handful of mint leaves for garnish
- Pecorino or parmesan, grated, to serve with
- In a large bowl, mix together the 2 x minced garlic cloves, chives, parsley, yoghurt, fennel seeds, paprika, 1½tsp salt and the chilli flakes.
- Add the pork mince and season with pepper and using your hands, mix everything together, gently. Make the meatballs approx the size of a plum.Place them on a plate.TIP: if you rub a little oil on your hands it will help to stop the mixture from sticking so much to your hands as you make the meatballs
- Put a large frying pan with sides, on medium-high, add a little olive oil and start adding your meatballs. Don't overcrowd so you may need to do it in batches.Gently, rotate them to get an all-over golden brown (approx 8 mins).As they brown, move them to a large plate.
- In the same pan, add the shallot and the sliced garlic cloves, then season with salt and pepper. Cook until the shallot and garlic soften, approx. 2-3 mins.
- Now, add the cherry tomatoes (if you had them), cook for a few mins then add the vinegar and 700ml water, scraping the brown bits off the bottom (flavour!) and stir together.Next, add in your tinned tomatoes.Bring to a strong simmer and reduce by approx 1/4, approx 5 – 7mins.
- Return the meatballs to the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer until the meatballs are cooked through, approx. 10-15 mins.
- To serve, top the meatballs with the mint on top.Serve with pasta, rice, crusty bread…
Recipes inspired by Alison Roman