Winter Warmer - Meatballs in Roast Tomato Sauce
I don’t know how many of you often make big batches of food and freeze? I am one of those who likes to prepare some of my favourites in big batches and freeze them so that when I feel like it, I do not have to make them from scratch. This is particularly handy when I am too lazy and want my food quick! Therefore, I always make sure I have space in my freezer to accommodate such purpose.
Recently, I made some meatballs and froze them. Meatballs are usually made of ground meat (either beef or pork, or even lamb) and mixed with other ingredients such as breadcrumbs, onions, and spices. Now that the weather has turned chilly, it is definitely a great time to have heartwarming dish like this!
When comes to freezing food, I normally wrap my food in realistically sized portions so that I don’t have to defrost too much and waste. Container is one of the options to store but I like to use freezer bags as it saves more space. I normally label my food along with the date it was frozen. With meatballs, you can freeze them raw or cooked. One thing to freeze raw is that you have to make sure your meat hasn’t been frozen before. What I did for mine was to first cook the meatballs and let them cool before I freeze. I put them in the freezer bag and laid them flat so that it’s easy take out of the bag without much thawing.
The most common, popular and delicious way to eat meatballs is with tomato sauce. I love tomato sauce but I am pretty particular about it too. Yes, canned tomato is the always at my disposal but I want to make something different. It just so happened that I saw a very simple and delicious roast tomato sauce recipe on River Cottage Everyday (again!). Well, to be honest, I really like Hugh‘s food. Hugh looks like a down to earth chef who cooks really humble and yummy food. That’s what I like about him!
Well, of course, it is important to source for good tomatoes in order to get a thumbs up tomato sauce. I just love the idea of fresh tomato sauce, it does make a difference! With this versatile sauce, you can basically use it to do anything – as your pasta sauce, or the sauce for meatballs! So, I decided to make a big batch of it! With this great combo of homemade roast tomato sauce with meatballs, what else could you ask for? No matter how horrible the weather looks out there, I get an instant comfort by just looking at this dish! 😉
For the Winter Warmer – Meatballs in Roast Tomato Sauce:
500g pork or beef mince
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Roast tomato sauce:
1.5kg tomatoes, halved
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 sprigs thyme
2 tbsp olive oil
1 bay leaf
0.5 tsp brown sugar
a little white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
a little ground mace
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Lay the tomato halves, cut-side up, in a single layer on a large baking tray. Scatter over the garlic and the thyme, if using, trickle over the oil and season generously. Place in an oven preheated to 180°C/Gas Mark 4 and roast for an hour, or until the tomatoes are soft and starting to brown.
2. Tip them into a large sieve and rub through with a wooden spoon; discard the skin and pips.
3. Measure the sieved tomato purée, then put it into a wide saucepan with the bay leaf. For every 500ml purée, add 1 heaped teaspoon of soft brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of vinegar and a pinch of mace.
4. Bring to a simmer and cook gently, stirring often, until reduced by between a third and a half to form a thick, glossy sauce – not quite a ketchup, but quite saucy nonetheless. Season to taste and adjust the sugar/ vinegar content too, if you like.
5. Put the mince in a mixing bowl with all other ingredients. Season and mix well to combine. Scoop about a tablespoon and using your hands, shape the mixture into balls. Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan and fry the meatballs for 8-10 mins until cooked through. Keep enough portion to be eaten and the rest to be cooled to freeze.
6. Warm enough roast tomato sauce in a saucepan. Tip in some meatballs to warm through. Sprinkle some chopped parsley and serve with cooked spaghetti if desired.