Want to know how to feel like an Italian goddess of the kitchen? Look no further than my spaghetti and meatballs. Every time I make this I transform from plain old Tania living in Rochester to Sofia who lives in a chic apartment overlooking central Rome who cooks in lingerie and a silk robe whilst her hunky husband Marco pours the red wine and lights the candles ready for dinner. I quickly come back to reality when I have to squish the mince up with my hands, running to the sink for fear of puking.
On that lovely note, on to my recipe!
Serves 2, greedily, which is really the only way to eat pasta, but would likely stretch to feed 3-4. I just wouldn’t want to.
What you need:
- 250g minced beef (I use 10% fat)
- 1 tbsp breadcrumbs
- 1 tbsp grated parmesan
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (how authentically Italian of me)
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- pinch of dried thyme
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 2 rashers streaky smoked bacon
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 red pepper, finely chopped
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- A splash of marsala or wine (optional)
- 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- Enough spaghetti to feed an army, or about 100g per person
- More parmesan, for grating over the top
What you do:
- In a bowl, combine the minced beef with the breadcrumbs, parmesan, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, paprika, thyme and some salt and pepper. Mix it up well using your hands then form into smallish meatballs. You should get around 12 meatballs out of this amount. Don’t make them too large, no-one wants a large ball of meat in their mouth at dinner time. You can keep the meatballs in the fridge if you want to make them in advance.
- Heat the olive oil in a pan and fry the meatballs off, turning them until they are nicely browned on all sides. This takes about 5 minutes, but you can just check inside one to make sure it’s cooked. Remove them from the pan and set to one side.
- Finely slice the bacon and add this to the same pan that you have just removed the meatballs from along with the chopped onion, pepper and garlic. Cook this until the vegetables have softened and the bacon is starting to crisp. Splash in a bit of booze. I always use marsala as I use it in everything but a trickle of red wine would do the job. Cook this off for a minute or two until it no longer smells like a brewery in your kitchen.
- Add in the tin of chopped tomatoes, the sugar and plenty of salt and pepper and cook the sauce for about 10 minutes until the tomatoes are rich and have lost their rawness. Whilst the sauce is bubbling away, cook the spaghetti according to packet instructions.
- Add your meatballs into the sauce and stir well, but gently, to immerse them in all the yummy flavours. Cook the sauce and meatballs together for a few minutes before draining your spaghetti and adding that to the pan also. Toss everything together well, transfer to large waiting bowls and top with some extra grated parmesan. Now get stuck in and earn your spaghetti stained smile.