Italian Meatballs in Spicy Red Sauce

img_1961Click to watch me make meatballs and sauce

Ingredients for meatballs:

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs – about 4 slices of old bread
  • 1/4 cup store-bought Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley or 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Ingredients for spicy red sauce:

  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 hot green chili chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 x 28-ounce cans smooth tomato sauce or Passata
  • 14 ounce can tomatoes
  • 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 cup broth, chicken or vegetable
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley or 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red peppers (more if you like it spicier)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Make the red sauce first:

In a very large saucepan heat, the olive oil then the chopped onions and gently fry until soft and slightly browning. Add the chopped garlic and hot green chili and saute for a couple of minutes. Add all the other remaining ingredients and mix well. Cover and leave to simmer while you prepare the meatballs.

Preparing the meatballs:

  1. Into a large bowl add breadcrumbs and milk and leave to soak. In the meantime chop your onions and garlic together (using a food processor) until they are totally mushy. Add all the ingredients into the bowl containing the soaked bread. As this is the messy part I usually wear a pair of disposable gloves to help in shaping the balls.   Mix all the ingredients together.
  2. Take lumps of meat mixture and shape into balls. They will shrink a bit when cooking so keeping that in mind I make mine about the size of a large golf ball. You should get between 20-25 balls.
  3. You can either brown the meatballs in a large frying pan with olive oil. Over a medium high heat add half the amount of meatballs and gently brown, turning once. Place the browned meatballs into the red sauce. Brown the remaining balls and then add them too.
  4. Or you can place all the meatballs on a large broiling pan and place under the grill (on high heat) and brown for 6-8 minutes before turning the meatballs over and brown for another 4-5 minutes before adding them to the red sauce. (I prefer this method).
  5. Once all the meatballs have been added to the sauce, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for at least 2-3 hours.  
  6. I usually prepare mine the day before we want to eat them as they taste even better the next day.  Great for freezing and leftovers

*To make fresh breadcrumbs, use day old bread in your food processor and pulse a few times until you see the breadcrumbs form.

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