Italian meatballs in tomato sauce: "Polpette di Carne"

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Italian meatballs in tomato sauce: "Polpette di Carne"
Meatballs in a simple tomato sauce —or Polpette di carne—are a true Italian classic. Some chefs gently poach their meatballs in the sauce but I prefer to cook them separately to get a nice caramelised crust.
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp tomato puree
  • 5 sun dried tomato halves, finely chopped
  • 1/3 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp dried mixed herbs
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 small handful fresh oregano leaves
  • olive oil, to fry
  • 100ml full fat milk
  • 130g stale white bread, crusts removed
  • 170g lean minced beef
  • 170g minced pork
  • 170g minced English veal
  • 1 banana shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 heaped tsp dijon mustard
  • salt & freshly ground pepper
  • seasoned plain flour. to dust
  • vegetable oil, to fry
  • parmesan, to serve
1. For the sauce, sweat the onions over a medium heat until soft but not coloured. Stir in the garlic and continue cooking for another two minutes.2. Add the tomato puree, sun dried tomatoes and chilli flakes and fry for another minute to remove the harsh flavour of the puree.3. Add the remaining sauce ingredients, except the oregano, then turn down the heat to very low and simmer gently for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thick. 4. If you prefer a smooth sauce, blend and pass through a fine sieve. 5. For the meatballs, start by soaking the bread in the milk until completely soft, then squeeze out any excess liquid and combine with all of the other ingredients in a large bowl.6. Shape the mixture into small balls about the size of a chocolate truffle, this recipe should easily make 24, dust in seasoned flour and fry until browned all over.7. When the sauce is ready, finish cooking the meatballs in the same pan for a further 15 minutes. Check that the meat is cooked all the way through.8. Test the seasoning, add the oregano leaves and serve with a grating of fresh parmesan.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: Serves 4