Mark’s Spiced Meatballs with a Tomato Sauce and Fresh Tagliatelle

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Serves 4

For the pasta (you can buy fresh pasta easily enough but we like to make our own)

200g ‘oo’ Flour

2 large Eggs

1 tbsp Olive Oil

Pinch of Salt

Knob of Butter (to be added after cooking)

For the meatballs

500g Pork Mince

2 cm piece fresh Ginger, grated

2 Garlic Cloves, crushed

2 tbsp Soy Sauce

2 tbsp Fresh Coriander, finely chopped

1 large Spring Onion, finely chopped

Zest of 1 Lemon

1 Egg, lightly beaten

Freshly ground Black Pepper

1 tbsp Olive Oil

For the Tomato Sauce

15 good sized Tomatoes

1 large Onion, roughly chopped

Small handful of fresh Thyme

1 tbsp Caster Sugar

Salt and Pepper

 
1. For the pasta place the flour, eggs and salt into a food processor and blitz until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs – about 30 seconds – then slowly add the oil and whizz for 15 seconds more.
2. Carefully tip the mixture onto a floured board and knead for 2-3 minutes, then wrap in cling film for 30 minutes and refrigerate.
3. If you have a pasta maker roll the pasta mix on a floured board until thin enough to pass through the widest setting of the machine. You will find it easier to do this in two batches. Fold in two and repeat. Do this 6 times – you will notice the pasta becoming smoother each time. Then adjust the setting so it is one click narrower and pass the pasta through the machine. Repeat on the next setting and continue until it is at the thinnest setting. Your pasta will now be very thin and you may need to cut into smaller sheets as one very long sheet isn’t easy to work with! It is possible to do all of this with a rolling pin and some rigorous rolling but obviously a pasta machine lightens the load considerably.
4. Some machines have a tagliatelle setting. If so pass the pasta through the machine and then carefully place the freshly made tagliatelle on a drying rack and place to one side. If you don’t have a machine that does this you can place the sheets on a floured board and cut them carefully into rough strips. Don’t worry about the inconsistent width of the pasta – it will still be delicious and the different widths make the pasta look authentically home-made!
5. For the meatballs mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl until combined.

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6. Shape into meatballs about the size of a ping pong ball. You may find it easier to do this using wet hands.

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7. For the tomato sauce gently fry the onion in the olive oil until soft but not brown.
8. Place the tomatoes in a pan of boiling water for 2 minutes – this makes getting the skins off much easier. Drain and plunge into cold water, then peel and roughly chop before adding to the onion, together with the thyme and caster sugar. Cook slowly for 20 minutes until everything is soft and the tomatoes largely disintegrate. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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9. Place in a food processor or blender and whizz until smooth. To make the sauce even smoother run it through a mouli.
10. Fry the meatballs, turning them carefully until they cook. They will take about 10 minutes.
11. As the meatballs are cooking get a large pan of salted water boiling, and when the meatballs are almost ready throw in the pasta and cook for 2 minutes. Heat up the sauce while the pasta is cooking but take care as it will bubble hot sauce if you heat it too quickly.

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12. Drain the pasta but leave a small amount of the water in the pan, add a knob of butter, freshly ground black pepper and mix through.
13. Place a serving of pasta on each plate, add some meatballs and pour over a good helping of the tomato sauce, then sprinkle a little chopped coriander on top to garnish.
14. Serve with a salad or seasonal vegetables

The crucial ingredient here is actually the lemon zest which lifts everything and focuses the flavours. The presence of tomatoes here can be a challenge for wine, but the complex flavours of the meatballs take care of that. Fresh ginger, soy and coriander mean that the wine you choose should have some element of spice and if you like you can include some freshly chopped chilli to the meatball mixture to back this up. No salt is added to the meatballs because the soy is in effect the seasoning.

Our favourite wine with this dish is a hearty American Zinfandel like Turley Old Vines. It’s powerful enough to cope with the tomatoes but tunes right into the oriental angle of the meatballs. You could also choose something like Salento Primitivo Fiore di Vigna – as we have here – which works equally well. Primitivo is, of course, the same grape as Zinfandel, and this example uses the appassimento method, where whole bunches of grapes are twisted on the vine, thereby concentrating sugars so the fruit has a slightly sweet feel. If you like white wine you’d need something very powerful and spicy, like Yves Cuilleron’s muscular Viognier, or a full bodied Côtes du Rhônes such as white St Joseph. But we think a hearty spicy red is king with these meatballs!