Meatballs with butterbeans

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Serves 4

Children love meatballs – grown-ups too – but they seem to have disappeared from menus these days; maybe the hamburger has taken over. Meatballs are real comfort food and will easily partner rice, spaghetti, mash or creamed polenta.

Vegetable oil for frying
Flour for dusting

For the sauce

1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1tsp chopped oregano leaves
A couple of good knobs of butter
1tbsp flour
A glass of red wine
300ml beef stock
1 x 400g can of chopped tomatoes
1 x 400g can of butter beans, drained and rinsed

For the meatballs

1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
2tsp chopped thyme leaves
1tsp crushed fennel seeds
1tbsp olive oil
300g coarsely minced pork belly or shoulder with at least 20-30 per cent fat
300g minced veal or beef
100g fresh white breadcrumbs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce, gently cook the onion, garlic and thyme in the butter for 2-3 minutes. Add the flour then gradually stir in the red wine and stock to avoid lumps forming. Bring to the boil, add the tomatoes, then simmer for 30 minutes. For the meatballs, gently cook the onion, garlic, thyme and fennel in the olive oil for 2-3 minutes on a low heat; leave to cool. Mix with the other ingredients and season. Make a little tester by moulding a flat patty shape and pan frying for a minute or so on each side. Correct seasoning if necessary. Mould into 24 or so round meatballs and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan and cook on a high heat for a few minutes, turning them so they brown evenly. You will probably need to do this in two batches or use two pans. Drain the meatballs on kitchen paper, then add to the sauce with the butter beans and simmer for about 20 minutes. Season the sauce more if necessary and add a little water if it becomes dry. You can store the meatballs for a couple of days in the fridge if you don't want to use them all straight away.