Meatballs a la Surly*
This week's recipe comes to us courtesy of Tina, and takes you, step-by-step, through the creation of succulent Italian meatballs in a rich tomato sauce. I'm sure you'll enjoy the process as much as I did..
1lb beef steak mince
½ medium sized onion (grated)
1 large clove of garlic (crushed)
4 tbsp homemade breadcrumbs
1 medium egg
1 tsp (heaped) mixed herbs
½ tsp cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
Plain flour (for coating meatballs)
Not nearly enough time
1 small, truculent child
Ambitions of culinary prowess way beyond your means
1 firm grip on your sanity
Arrive home thirty minutes later than usual as childminder has fucked off to Center Parcs for the week, leaving you in the lurch and forcing you to farm your child out on various acquaintances. Serve macaroni cheese with peas to small child, in the hope that it will distract them for long enough for you to make the meatballs and cool them in time to start cooking them.
Remind yourself that you need to put some laundry on.
Grate the onion. Make a note to self re what a horrible experience grating an onion is and vow never to do it again. Place the onion, a teaspoon of ready-crushed garlic (do I look as if I’ve got time to faff around crushing garlic?), half of the giant 800g pack of mince you bought because you didn’t read the recipe before doing your shopping, the egg and some pepper into a mixing bowl. Begin to mix with your hands.
Realise that you haven’t got any herbs out of the cupboard. Wash and dry hands, retrieve seasonings. Add to mixture and continue to blend by hand.
Realise that you haven’t got any flour out of the cupboard. Wash and dry hands, retrieve flour. Notice that the only flour in the cupboard is self-raising. Resign yourself to it and attempt to put thoughts of giant meatballs filling the kitchen, intent on suffocating all in their path, firmly out of your head.
Fetch more cranberry juice for small child. Feign interest in small sparkly amphibian naming ceremony. Return to kitchen, finish mixing ingredients. At this stage, your kitchen should look like this:
Note that every bowl, surface and utensil should be involved.
Roll the mixture into balls of about 3cm diameter. Dip in flour, coating evenly, and place in the only thing to hand which is, bizarrely, a roasting tin. At this stage, it’s recommended that you cool the meatballs in the freezer for half an hour. However, since you have placed the remainder of the giant pack of mince you bought because you didn’t read the recipe before doing your shopping in the freezer already (in anticipation of throwing it away in two weeks to make room for Christmas things) there isn’t any room. Therefore you can cool them in the fridge for an hour.
Run bath for small child. Feign interest in cutting small things into smaller pieces, all the time panicking about everything else you need to do before dinner needs to be dished up in an hour and a half. Place small child in bath, garnish with toys and leave to simmer while you attempt to make sense of the bombsite that used to be your kitchen. Do the dishes and wipe work surfaces, weeping steadily and hopelessly.
Grate the other half of the onion. Note that it is just as horrible as the first time you did it. Place the onion and more ready-crushed garlic into a pan with some vegetable oil (who the hell keeps olive oil in the cupboard? Who?) and gently cook. Add two tins of tomatoes – one quality brand, one supermarket value range. Add Worcestershire sauce, a beef oxo cube and some pepper to taste. Bring to the boil and simmer gently, all the while keeping an ear cocked for signs of trouble/sounds of small child drinking bathwater two doors down the hall.
Realise that you forgot to put the laundry on. Put the laundry on.
Mash the sauce with potato masher as value tomatoes are forming huge, cheap-looking clumps. Stir.
Stir the sauce, put the oven on at 180 degrees C, wash the small child and the small child’s hair. Remove small sulking child (who is now going to bed with no story owing to exasperating behaviour) from bath, dry and leave to stew in bedroom.
Pour ¾ sauce over meatballs. Cover tray with foil and place in the oven for 45 minutes. Stir the remaining sauce. Brush the small child’s hair and teeth, and tuck into a warm bed with a timbale of cuddly toys. Garnish with a loving cuddle, kiss and leave to sleep. Wish desperately that you could get in with them.
Stir the sauce.
Check the meatballs. Clean loo and bathroom, tidy living room and stir the sauce. Brush hair, wash face (in an attempt to remove oniony smell from grating the onion, which more sort of exploded than anything else).
Realise that you have forgotten to put water on for pasta. Put water on for pasta. Panic, and boil kettle as it will be faster. Watch in mute disbelief as kettle and water in saucepan come to the boil simultaneously.
Greet Other Half warmly, stir the sauce. Put pasta (both sorts) into smugly boiling water. Chat idly, while wondering whether the washing machine will ever finish.
Remove meatballs from oven. Transfer to pan containing remaining sauce. Stir gently, watching for moue of distaste on mouth of Other Half concerning herby smell of meatballs.
Serve meatballs on top of pasta, piping hot. Sprinkle with parmesan and serve with a hint of hysteria. Vague disquiet ensues as you feel lost with no sauce to stir.
For an exciting twist, why not add more pressure in the form of guests? In-laws in particular add a soupcon of resentment to the mix, with fragrant results.
* These were absolutely gorgeous (except you were right, Tina - no cumin next time)