How do you photograph a pan of beautiful little meatballs bubbling away in a rich tomato sauce? Food stylists will tell me to turn off the heat and let things go cold, then get some natural light and get up close. Unfortunately hungry husband and cranky toddler care nothing for image quality, so the best I can do is the flash over the stove and a little steam on the lens.
We saw an episode of My Family Feast a few nights ago and host Sean Connolly was cooking with four generations of the Pacialeo family and learning how they create their annual home-made tomato sauce. The meatball recipe was fantastic, and so much simpler than ones I’ve made in the past – no faffing around frying off the meatballs before putting them into the sauce, they had a pan of tomato simmering next to them as they rolled and plonked them straight in. Of course I didn’t have the correct ingredients, so here’s my approximation, which were delicious all the same.
500g veal and pork mince
grated Parmesan cheese
a handful of italian parsley
salt and pepper
a jar of Italian passata (about 700g)
1 can chopped tomatoes
Make a pile of equal quantities of breadcrumbs and grated parmesan that is about the same size as your quantity of mince. Add to a large bowl with finely chopped parsley, an egg and salt and pepper to taste. Mix with your hands, kneading like bread, until it all comes together. You may need to add another egg depending on the wetness of your mix (I did).
Pour the passata and chopped tomatoes into a large shallow pan and bring to a slow simmer. Wet your hands and roll the mince mixture into small balls (a large tsp of mix makes a good sized ball) and drop these into the bubbling sauce.
Cook for about 1/2 an hour. Serve with spaghetti.