Meatballs in tomato sauce

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This sauce can be used to braise chicken, veal or pork dishes. Kids will love it dished up with pasta or rice. The meatballs will keep well in the freezer in the sauce, or freeze them raw, separately from the sauce, for a rainy day. Instead of pork you could use a mixture of beef and veal.

This sauce can be used to braise chicken, veal or pork dishes. Kids will love it dished up with pasta or rice. The meatballs will keep well in the freezer in the sauce, or freeze them raw, separately from the sauce, for a rainy day. Instead of pork you could use a mixture of beef and veal.

1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
1tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
1tbsp vegetable oil plus extra for frying
400g minced pork with about 10-15 per cent fat
50g fresh white breadcrumbs
A good pinch of ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Flour for dusting

For the sauce

1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
30g butter
2tsp flour
1 small glass of red wine
1tbsp tomato purée
400g canned chopped tomatoes or the equivalent fresh, skinned, seeded and chopped
500ml beef or chicken stock (a good quality cube will do)

Gently cook the onions, garlic and thyme in a little of the vegetable oil until soft. Put to one side and cool down. Mix the minced pork, breadcrumbs and cooked onions together with the cumin then season well with salt and pepper. Test the seasoning by rolling a little flat cake of the mixture and gently frying it in oil for a minute or so on each side, cool down, taste and season more if necessary. Roll the mixture into squash-ball sized pieces and refrigerate for 30-40 minutes to set.

To make the sauce, gently cook the onions and garlic in the butter until soft, add the flour, stir well then add the tomato purée and the tomatoes. Slowly add the red wine and stock, bring to the boil, lightly season with salt and pepper and simmer for 30 minutes.

Heat a little oil in a heavy frying pan, lightly dust the meatballs with flour and fry a few at a time until golden. Take out and drain on kitchen towel to remove excess fat.

Add the meatballs to the sauce – you may need to transfer everything into a larger pan. Cover the pan and simmer gently for about 30-40 minutes, giving the sauce the occasional skim. Check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve the meatballs with Parmesan polenta (follow the instructions for making soft polenta on the packet and stir in Parmesan at the end), mashed potato or spaghetti.

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