We may as well admit that summer is over. We’ve had our three designated hours of sunshine and now we’re back to rain, albeit with humidity and general mugginess. Classic Manchester.
Since the weather has turned abysmal, I don’t feel guilty about making comfort food. This has all the flavour of meatballs, but instead of being mixed through with pasta, this is covered in a load of cheese (the ultimate in comfort food). Of course, you can serve this with pasta on the side if you wish, but I prefer to eat this with green veg and some garlic bread, fresh out of the oven.
This is a great example of a sharing dish that’s served in the middle of the table and allows everyone to dig in.
- onion 2 small, grated
- lean beef mince 250g
- lean pork mince 250g
- fresh breadcrumbs 125g
- fennel seeds 1 tbsp, crushed
- dried oregano 1 tsp
- egg 1
- olive oil for frying
- garlic 2 cloves, crushed
- bay leaves 3
- chopped tomatoes 400g tin
- passata 600ml
- tomato purée 2 tbsp
- brown sugar 1 tbsp
- red wine vinegar 1 tbsp
- mozzarella 250g (a large block), grated
- mascarpone 100g
- Put half the onion, all of the beef and pork mince, breadcrumbs, fennel seeds, oregano and egg in a bowl with plenty of seasoning. Mix everything with your hands really well, then shape into 20 meatballs. Heat 1 tbsp oil in an ovenproof frying pan and brown the meatballs in batches, adding more oil as you need – the meatballs should be almost cooked through. Once browned, scoop out of the pan and onto a plate.
- Add the rest of the onion to the pan with another tbsp of olive oil. Fry gently until soft, then add the garlic, and fry for a couple of minutes more. Add the bay leaves, tomatoes, passata, purée, brown sugar and red wine vinegar to the frying pan, and bring to a simmer. Bubble for 20 minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened, and the surface is glistening. Add back the meatballs.
- Mix 200g of the grated mozzarella with the mascarpone and a little salt. Spoon the cheesy mascarpone over the meatballs in dollops, and scatter over the remaining grated mozzarella.
- Heat the oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Bake for 30 minutes until the meatballs are piping hot and cooked through, and the top is golden and bubbling. Let the dish cool for 5 minutes, then add a drizzle of olive oil before spooning straight from the dish. Serve with crusty bread, pasta or rice.