*MEATBALLS* … inspired by MASTERCHEF, made by ME. Simples.

21 Apr

meatballs 8

I have been away for a little while, doing ‘life admin’, which I agree is absolutely no fun at all, but it has to be done.  I have however continued to bake/cook at every opportunity and have made a range of things which I will share with you over the next few weeks.  Whilst I have been away I have however been watching one of my favourite TV shows… Masterchef.

Masterchef has been back on our TV screens (hoorah!) and I have been avidly watching the new series – is it me or has there been a few dodgy hopefuls?  It left me thinking ‘surely I am better than those people, who don’t even know the difference between pork and lamb?‘… Hummm.  Not too impressed, I must say!

Anyway, I often watch Masterchef and think ‘I would love to make that, if only I could afford XXX ingredients’.  I never can and always think it’s a little unobtainable for me, though I do enjoy viewing the show.  However, this week all was different.  John Torode made meatballs… what!?  Simple, easy and something I liked and could easily get all the ingredients for.  I was inspired.

So, here is what I did and how I did it.  John – they may not be as good as yours, but God loves a trier!


COOKING TIME: 15 minutes

MAKES: 40 meatballs (serve 4 per person)

COST:  The meatballs will cost approx. 80p per portion to make and the sauce and pasta will add another 68p to this.  Overall the dish will cost £1.48.


For the meatballs…

  • 400g pork mince (£3.50)
  • 400g lean beef mince (£4)
  • 1 onion (33p)
  • 2 English breakfast muffins (50p)
  • 6 tsp sage (50p)
  • Black pepper (to taste)

For the pasta & sauce… (serves 4 people)

  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes (89p)
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree (20p)
  • 1 tbsp heinz tomato ketchup (20p)
  • 1 onion (33p)
  • 1 tsp worcestershire sauce (5p)
  • 1 tsp black pepper (5p)
  • 240g wholemeal pasta (£1)


meatballs 1

Grate the English muffins, to make breadcrumbs.

Some people don’t use breadcrumbs and they make this dish with 100% meat, but I like the texture the breadcrumbs give the meatballs and so does John, so here we go!  If you have a blender then great, you can use this to make the breadcrumbs, so just break the English muffins up into small pieces but into the blender.  If you don’t have a blender (like me) you can use a cheese grater to get the same result… honestly!  (I prefer it to using a blender actually as I hate cleaning the blender!)  So, once you have your breadcrumbs place these to one side.

Finely dice the onion and then (using a tiny bit of olive oil) cook these until they are soft and golden.  Do not let them catch and burn, as this will make the meatballs taste burnt too.  Once the onions are soft add the sage and continue to cook, this will release the flavour from the sage.

Next add the breadcrumbs, to the onions and the sage.  I was also quite surprise when I watched John Torode do this, but as he explained, if you don’t do this (in effect toast the breadcrumbs) then they will give the meatballs an ‘uncooked’ texture i.e. soggy!  So cook the onions, sage and breadcrumbs until they everything is golden.  This will only take about 5 minutes. Again, be careful not to let them burn and keep stirring them in the pan.

Place the pork mince and the beef mince in a large bowl and break up a little.  To this add the onions, sage and breadcrumbs mixture (I added this straight away, if you want to let it cool a little this is fine too, its probably best unless you have asbestos hands!).  Add some black pepper to this too, this will just bring out the flavours.  Add as much as you like… some people don’t like pepper and I do believe that it is an acquired taste. Then mix together well until everything comes together and is evenly distributed.  Interestingly, if you just use pork mince for this recipe then the meatballs will be very dry.  Using the beef with the pork keeps the mixture moist and brings out the ‘meaty’ flavour.  I do agree though, it is a little odd having pork and beef in the same recipe… but hey ho, it tastes great!

The meatballs mixture is now ready to roll (so to speak).  So, you can roll them into small balls.  I like to have smaller meatballs so that they get fully coated in sauce, so make lots of smaller meatballs or fewer larger ones.  This bit is for you to decide!  You could even make mini-meatballs, so that they are about 1cm each… this is what I will be doing next time… just to mix things up a little.

meatballs 7

My meatballs… rolled and ready to be cooked and eaten!

Now it is time to cook the meatballs.  In a large pan (or frying pan) heat a little olive oil and then once this is smoking a little (not spitting) drop about 8 meatballs in (2 portions) and cook these for about 3 minutes, constantly moving them around so that they do not stick and are evenly cooked.  Once they are golden all over remove them from the pan and place to one side.  Repeat this with all the meatballs you want/require.

Now it is time to make the pasta and the sauce.  Make the tomato sauce first, so that this can reduce whilst you cook the pasta.  Dice the onion and then fry this in a little tiny bit of olive oil until it is golden.  To this add a tin of chopped tomatoes, the tomato puree and the tomato ketchup.  I know that this is a little bit of a cheat, but if you don’t use this, you will need to add a little bit of sugar so it’s just the same but more tomato-y.  (This is one of my friends little cheats and it works a treat!)  To this you can add the Worcestershire sauce and a little black pepper and then you sealed meatballs, leave this to reduce and also to allow the meatballs to cook through and take on the tomato sauce flavour.  Whilst this cooks we can make the pasta.

meatballs 4

The sauce with the sealed (not cooked) meatballs, happily reducing whilst my pasta cooks.

So, boil some water and pour into a pan.  The standard portion size is about 60g of raw pasta per person, so measure this out and then place into the boiling water.  Unless you have quick cook pasta, this will take about 10 – 12 minutes to cook… just the right amount of time for your sauce to come together and thicken.

Once everything is cooked… the sauce has reduced, the pasta is cooked and drained; place the pasta in with the meatballs and sauce and mix well.  Serve and ensure that everyone gets the same number of meatballs!  Its really important to ensure everything gets mixed together as otherwise you end up with dry pasta… and this is just not what the Italians would do.  So ensure all the pasta gets coated with the sauce before you serve.  Sprinkle with some parmesan (if you like, I do) and enjoy with a glass of red wine!  DELICIOUS.

meatballs 5

The final dish, with everything coated in the sauce served! DONE!



2 Responses to “*MEATBALLS* … inspired by MASTERCHEF, made by ME. Simples.”

  1. frugalfeeding April 21, 2013 at 5:05 pm #

    Breadcrumbs are a must – though I’d just use white sliced. Great looking meatballs – even though I’m utterly bored of Masterchef… it’s been going on for ages 😀


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