Meatballs with Spaghetti and Fresh Tomato Sauce

The Americans invented meatballs to go with spaghetti, and there are lots of ground rules, but the main criteria for any meatball is that it should have a kind of melt-in-the-mouth lightness and not be heavy and bouncy. These, I think, are just right.

Serves 4 (makes 24 meatballs)

Meatballs with Spaghetti and Fresh Tomato Sauce
 8 oz (225 g) minced pork
 1 level dessertspoon chopped sage leaves
 3½ oz (95 g) mortadella or unsmoked bacon
 2 level tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano)
 2 level tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
 3 oz (75 g) white bread without crusts, soaked in 2 tablespoons milk
 1 large egg
 a little nutmeg
 salt and freshly milled black pepper
To cook and serve:
 1 lb (450 g) spaghetti
 1 quantity Classic Fresh Tomato Sauce - the amount to serve 2-3 is sufficient (click here for recipe)
 1-2 tablespoons groundnut or other flavourless oil, for frying
 a little Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano)
 a few fresh basil leaves


To make the meatballs, all you do is place all the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and blend everything on a low speed until thoroughly blended. If you don't have a processor, chop everything as finely as possible with a sharp knife and blend it with a fork. Now take walnut-sized pieces of the mixture and shape them into rounds – you should end up with 24 meatballs. Then put them in a large dish or on a tray, cover with clingfilm and chill for about 30 minutes to firm up.

Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to a low setting. Then, when you are ready to cook the meatballs, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large frying pan and, over a fairly high heat, add 12 meatballs at a time and cook them until they are crispy and brown all over, adding a little more oil as necessary. This will take 4-5 minutes per batch, so as they are cooked, remove them to a plate and keep them warm, covered with foil, in the oven.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta (see _How to cook perfect pasta_, below) and gently warm the tomato sauce. Then drain the pasta, return it to the pan and toss in the tomato sauce, quickly mix well and then pile it on to plates. Top with the meatballs, sprinkle with some freshly grated Parmesan and finish with a few basil leaves.

_This recipe is taken from How to Cook Book One._

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