You might be wondering wants N.I.K stands for? WELL…. N.I.K stands for Nick In Kitchen (thanks to my babes Ruby Blue for coming up with the shortened title) and its going to be a new weekly segment from my hubby Nick. He LOVES cooking and is an amazing at it, so he has volunteered to contribute to the blog each week with some yummy dinners. I’m pretty excited to share my wee space with him and without further adieu, its over to him!
N- Because my day job as an IT consultant is very much about solving problems and accommodating change, I find it relaxing to cook and follow a structured recipe where someone else is giving me the instructions. The fact that I can then eat my work at the end is just an added bonus. I have been cooking since I moved out of home at 17 and my favourite things to cook are anything Chinese or Italian. I have always enjoyed making my food look “pretty” (insert manly grunting noises), even if its just a baked potato and wedges. I have had this recipe for so many years, I don’t actually remember where it came from. If you have a few spare hours on the weekend and want to get in the good books with the wife or husband then this is the thing to make.
Ingredients (serves 4)
– 1 medium onion, diced
– 5 garlic cloves, minced
– 1/4 cup good quality olive oil
– 140g tomato paste
– 2x 400g tins diced tomatoes
– 1 tsp white sugar
– 2 tsp salt
– 2 bayleaves
– 1 tsp dried basil
– 1 tsp ground black pepper
– 500g lean beef mince (lamb or chicken if you don’t eat beef)
– 3/4 cup fresh wholemeal bread crumbs
– 3/4 Tbsp dried parsley flakes
– 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
– 1/4 tsp garlic powder
– 1 egg
– 20x 1cm cubes of mozzarella (to be added while rolling balls)
– Traditional egg spaghetti, packet fresh or dry (enough for 4 servings)
What to do
– Grab a large mixing bowl and add the meat. De chunk it using your fingers and add egg.
– Add dry ingredients to the bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands. You want to make sure you get a good coverage of all he ingredients throughout the mixture. Keep mixing until the mixture starts to dry out enough that it has a reasonably firm consistency (not sloppy but wet enough to manipulate). If too dry, add another egg, if too wet add some more breadcrumbs
– Take a golf ball size piece of mixture and roughly form it into a ball. Grab a piece of mozzarella and push it into the centre of the ball with your thumb. Fold the ball over the cheese so that it is covered and inside the centre of the ball.
– Roll the ball between your palms to get it into a nice round shape. Set aside on a tray ( I use the wife’s muffin tins as it stops them from rolling around) and repeat with remaining mixture.
– Once all of the meatballs have been shaped, cover them up with cling film and pop into the fridge while you make your sauce. This will help the meatballs keep their shape.
– Grab a large sauce pan and pop it on at medium heat. Add the olive oil.
– Once the olive oil is up to temperature, add the onion and cook until translucent. Stir through mince garlic.
– Add remaining sauce ingredients and 1 Tbsp of tomato paste (the remaining will go in later). Give it a good stir, let it come up to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Let it bubble away for at least 90 minutes, 2 hours is better.
– Give it a wee stir every half an hour and check that its not getting too dry.
Putting it all together
– In the last 30 minutes of the sauce cooking, get the meatballs out of the fridge and heat up a large frying pan with a good lug of oil.
– In batches, brown the meatballs off in the pan. Make sure you get a good even coverage by rotating them regularly. Give them long enough to go nice and brown on the outside but not too long that you cook them fully. About 3-5 minutes.
– As the meatballs come out of the pan, pop them straight into the sauce to continue their cooking for another 20 minutes, add rest of tomato paste now and give it a good stir. This should allow you to have a nice crispy texture on the outside and a nice soft gooey centre on the inside. Keep a test meatball aside to take it out at the end of cooking to chop it in half and make sure the meatballs are cooked to your liking. Its ok to be a bit pink in the middle. For people who don’t like medium rare, cook for a little bit longer.
– While the meatballs simmer away in the sauce, grab a pot of generously salted water and cook pasta to packet directions.
– Take the pasta off the heat, drain using a sieve or colander, and pour some olive oil onto the pasta. This stops the pasta from sticking.
– Plate up the pasta followed by meatballs and sauce. Top with some black pepper and parmesan cheese if you have it in the house.
Hope you enjoy this as much as we do.