I feel a teensy bit like Dirty Delia Smith when she brought us her How To Cheat series which rocked the foodie world, as I bring you this new recipe. I say only a teensy bit as it’s not that naughty to use a pack of store bought but good quality sausages to make slow cooked meatballs, is it?
Having spent a wee while resting on my laurels, I’ve had some time to reflect on life. The things which make me happy and those which make me sad. It truly is a marvellous thing to have the time to sit on your favourite chair and ponder life, read a book or listen to music whilst drinking tea, coffee, wine, a cocktail or three… Simply marvellous. However busy I do get, I love my work and it feels less painful to have to go in early or give up an evening here and there than it ever has. I feel truly fortunate to have arrived here and when I just know I will be seduced by the lure of the takeaway if faced with arriving home mentally exhausted if not physically, then having something blipping away in the slow cooker as I walk in the door will help keep my body as healthy as my mind! This meal took 20 minutes to prepare before work then another 15 minutes to boil some pasta and serve up when I got home. If you are lucky enough to be able to buy sausage meat from your butcher then do get yourself some of that rather than go to the bother of skinning sausages whilst still in your slipper socks and onesie…
It was my lovely friend Jen who gave me the idea for this meal (remember Jen – she’s my partner in crime when it comes to home made ice cream). So thank you Jen! As I happened to have both a pack of pork and leek sausages and one of minced beef in the freezer, I went with that combo but you absolutely could use minced pork, different sausages, minced lamb even. I wouldn’t use turkey or chicken as they might dry out after a day of cooking but something with a little fat will do nicely. That plus a portion of my slow cooked, full bodied tomato sauce which is already jam packed with tomatoes, onions, carrot and celery so there’s no need to add more and make this recipe unachievable in the no-more-than half an hour I imagine anyone is willing to give up that early in the day! If you haven’t made a batch recently, a jar of passata would make an acceptable if less rich perfectly serviceable alternative. As I have what I think of as pasta guilt which I define as the guilt over the sheer volume of nutrient poor refined, white carbs forcing one to compensate with extra veg, I add a can of sweetcorn and a cup of frozen peas to my cooking pasta. Which makes this a very simple meal which will welcome you home with the aroma of slowly simmering, twice cooked tomato sauce and garlicky meatballs, no muss, no fuss.
- 400g minced beef (or pork or lamb)
- 400g top quality sausages or sausage meat
- 2 fat cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp of olive oil
- 300-600ml of tomato sauce*, depending on how saucy you like it
- 3-4 tbsp of grated mozzarella cheese (or as much parmesan as you like)
- In a large bowl, put your minced meat, skinned sausages or sausage meat. Grate over the garlic and sprinkle with the herbs. The sausage will have all the binding agents you need in the form of breadcrumbs but you may want to add some seasoning here.
- Squeeze the meat together and mix with your hands until all the ingredients are fully combined. If your slow cooker pan can go on the hob, heat it with the olive oil and toss in 1 inch diameter meatballs as you make them to brown them lightly. If not, do this in a large sauce pan. Don’t make them too small or they may fall apart.
- Pour over your tomato sauce and shake the pan to mix it in – stirring may break them up so a wiggle will do you. I quite like my meatballs not swimming in sauce so add the lower amount of sauce but you may like to add a bit more – remember, there will be little evaporation in the slow cooker and you aren’t trying to make meatball soup so be judicious!
- Pop the lid on and transfer to your slow cooker base (or pour into the pan from your saucepan if your crock isn’t hob safe) and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
- Sprinkle with the cheese as you put the pasta on to serve with. I add a cup of sweetcorn and a cup of garden peas to my pasta but please do as you prefer. A side salad and some lovely bread would make an excellent alternative serving suggestion or microwave a baking potato if you can’t bare to deal with anything more complicated at the end of another long hard day at work.