Introduction

This recipe is the definition of comfort food! You are building levels of flavour as you go along, creating a hearty mouthful. It is an extremely tasty recipe that doesn’t disappoint!

Materials

For the meatballs
  • 400g pork mince meat, 5% fat (bring at room temperature)
  • 400g beef mince meat, 5% fat (bring at room temperature)
  • 80g panko breadcrumbs
  • 1x onion, chopped with a food processor
  • 2x garlic cloves, chopped with a food processor
  • 15-20g parsley, chopped with a food processor
  • 1x egg, at room temperature
  • 20ml olive oil plus extra for frying
  • Salt, pepper and oregano
For the bean sauce
  • 2x tins of cannellini beans (2x 400g), drained
  • 1x tin of chopped tomatoes (400g)
  • 1x onion, roughly chopped
  • 2x garlic gloves, crushed
  • 300g of carrots (approx. 2x medium carrots), cut in 0.5cm quarters
  • 2x celery sticks, cut in 0.5cm quarters
  • 3x bacon rashers, cut in squares (optional)
  • 500ml of beef stock (1x cube dissolved in 500ml of water)
  • 50ml red wine
  • 1-2x bay leaf
  • 10g of thyme, leaves off the stalk
  • 10g parsley, thinly chopped for serving
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Method

Pre-heat the oven at 180oC/fan.

Start with the meatballs. In a food processor/chopper add the onion, the garlic cloves and the parsley and chop until fine breadcrumb consistency.  In a deep bowl, mix the mince meats, the onion/garlic/parsley mix, the egg, the olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano and mix to combine (best to use your hands). Once everything is well combined, form 50gr meatballs (approx. 22x meatballs) and set aside.

Chopping the onion, garlic and parsley in a food processor will help incorporate all the ingredients in the meatballs, making sure no big pieces stick out!

Same size meatballs need the same cooking time!

Bacon is optional in this recipe but if you choose to include it, heat a tiny amount of olive oil at medium-high heat (7 out of 9) in a frying pan and fry the bacon for 4-5min until brown and crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan and place it on a kitchen towel. Discard the excess fat from the pan.

In the same frying pan, heat 10x tablespoons of olive oil in a medium-high heat (7 out of 9) and once hot, fry the meatballs. Turn them regularly for about 5-7min until all sides are golden brown. Once ready, remove the meatballs from the frying pan and place them on a plate lined with some kitchen towels to absorb the extra oil.

Bacon will contribute building layers of flavours, but the recipe works equally well without it!

At this stage we need to seal the meatballs, not cook them through!

Heat 2x tablespoons of olive oil in a cast iron casserole (with a lid) at a medium-high heat (7 out of 9). Once hot, add the chopped carrots, celery and onion. Fry for about 5-6min. Add the garlic and fry for an extra 1min. Then add the wine and once the alcohol has evaporated, add the chopped tomatoes, the beef stock, the thyme and the bay leaves. Once you bring it to a boil, turn down the heat to a medium-low (6 out of 9) and cook for 10min. Then, raise the heat to medium-high (7 out of 9), add the beans and cook for a couple more minutes.

Place the bacon pieces and the meatballs on top of the bean sauce, cover the casserole with the lid and bake for 20min. After the 20min, take the casserole out of the oven and rotate the meatballs so the other side can also be cooked immersed in the sauce. Bake uncovered for another 10-15min. By the end, the sauce should have some liquid left. Serve with some chopped parsley.

Discussion

This recipe is inspired by Greek cuisine. It is a classical meatball recipe combined with a classical bean sauce recipe. Both flavours are very familiar and the combination does work! It is a bit time-consuming but it’s worth it!

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