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Recipe for meatballs and spaghetti with red wine, tomatoes and bell peppers. Foolproof slow cooker/crock pot recipes

Meatballs and spaghetti with the wow factor

Meatballs and spaghetti with the wow factor

“Please don’t buy mince again. I just don’t like it.” Danny grumbled out of the kitchen.
“But you like spaghetti sauce made with mince! That’s what I bought it for.”

The last comment wasn’t exactly true. I wanted to make another cottage pie and Danny had somehow sensed this in the ether.
“I know that you liked the cottage pie but I didn’t care for it.”
“Oh.”

My mum always says that I thrive on a challenge. I was determined to make something utterly delicious with the offending pack of mince. Meatballs sprang to mind and I looked up one of our old recipes immediately.

Danny’s brother Donagh taught me the secret of melt in the mouth meatballs. He soaks the fresh breadcrumbs in milk before they are added to the mince. This guarantees that they are soft and delicious.

I made the sauce in the slow cooker/crock pot. I just simmered the ingredients for about three hours – even with the lid on the sauce gradually reduced and thickened. The meatballs were added towards the end of the cooking time, as there were over 30 I had to cook them in two batches.

Having made the sauce, I was rushing about making the meatballs and I made a mistake. I added the breadcrumbs to the mince without soaking them in milk. So I took a chance and sloshed in some red wine instead. Oh happy, happy mistake, these new recipe meatballs were out of this world. They were even better the next day so these would be perfect for making a meal in advance.

Recipe for meatballs and spaghetti with red wine, tomatoes and bell peppers

Ingredients:

The meatballs:

700g of minced beef
70g of fresh white breadcrumbs
100ml of cheap red cooking wine
1 large egg – beaten
70g of finely grated Parmesan/ Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Half a teaspoon of dried savory or thyme
Half a teaspoon of garlic granules or a small garlic clove chopped very, very fine

The sauce:

2 x 400g tins of good quality tomatoes (packs of these are regularly discounted at supermarkets so snap these bargains up when you can. Really good tinned tomatoes can be eaten as a side dish)
1 red bell pepper – sliced
1 yellow or orange bell pepper – sliced
1 medium courgette/zucchini – grated
1 heaped teaspoon of garlic granules or a chunky garlic clove chopped very, very fine
Half a teaspoon of dried savory or thyme
Splosh of red wine
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

The meatballs:

In a large bowl mix all the ingredients together. Set aside for at least half an hour to let the flavours infuse. Then form the meatballs – make them a little larger than a big walnut. Put them in the fridge until they are needed.

The sauce:

Add all the ingredients to your slow cooker/crock pot.
Stir well and set the dial to high.
When the sauce is bubbling (about an hour) set the dial to low. Leave to simmer for two hours.

When the sauce is ready decant the sauce into a sauté or deep frying pan. Add enough meatballs to cover the surface of the sauce with a little space between each one. Bring to simmering point and cook the meatballs gently for 10 minutes – lid on. Carefully turn them over and cook for a further 20 minutes. You should be able to cook them at the lowest dial setting if you keep the lid on your pan – too much heat will harden the meatballs so beware.

Cook your spaghetti according to the manufacturer’s instructions and your taste (we unfashionably prefer spag and most pasta with no bite)

Heap the spaghetti on warmed plates, add the meatballs and sauce and sprinkle with a decent amount of Parmesan/Parmigiano Reggiano – we use the latter, it’s cheaper and tastes fine to us.

Incidentally these meatballs freeze and reheat really well.

 

 

Recipe for meatballs and spaghetti with red wine, tomatoes and bell peppers. Foolproof slow cooker/crock pot recipes
Recipe Type: Main course
Author: Fiona Nevile
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 4 hours
Total time: 4 hours 15 mins
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 700g of minced beef
  • 70g of fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 100ml of cheap red cooking wine
  • 1 large egg – beaten
  • 70g of finely grated Parmesan/ Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • Half a teaspoon of dried savory or thyme
  • Half a teaspoon of garlic granules or a small garlic clove chopped very, very fine
  • The sauce:
  • 2 x 400g tins of good quality tomatoes (packs of these are regularly discounted at supermarkets so snap these bargains up when you can. Really good tinned tomatoes can be eaten as a side dish)
  • 1 red bell pepper – sliced
  • 1 yellow or orange bell pepper – sliced
  • 1 medium courgette/zucchini – grated
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of garlic granules or a chunky garlic clove chopped very, very fine
  • Half a teaspoon of dried savory or thyme
  • Splosh of red wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. The meatballs:
  2. In a large bowl mix all the ingredients together. Set aside for at least half an hour to let the flavours infuse. Then form the meatballs – make them a little larger than a big walnut. Put them in the fridge until they are needed.
  3. The sauce:
  4. Add all the ingredients to your slow cooker/crock pot.
  5. Stir well and set the dial to high.
  6. When the sauce is bubbling (about an hour) set the dial to low. Leave to simmer for two hours.
  7. When the sauce is ready decant the sauce into a sauté or deep frying pan. Add enough meatballs to cover the surface of the sauce with a little space between each one. Bring to simmering point and cook the meatballs gently for 10 minutes – lid on. Carefully turn them over and cook for a further 20 minutes. You should be able to cook them at the lowest dial setting if you keep the lid on your pan – too much heat will harden the meatballs so beware.
  8. Cook your spaghetti according to the manufacturer’s instructions and your taste (we unfashionably prefer spag and most pasta with no bite)
  9. Heap the spaghetti on warmed plates, add the meatballs and sauce and sprinkle with a decent amount of Parmesan/Parmigiano Reggiano – we use the latter, it’s cheaper and tastes fine to us.
  10. Incidentally these meatballs freeze and reheat really well.

  Leave a reply

11 Comments

  1. Fiona Nevile

    Arrrrgh! I’ve spent the last 2 days trying to get the Print option to work :( But if you select the recipe card you can just print it out :)

    Also I’ve twigged that I need a separate recipe card for each component – sauce and meat :(

    But I’ve posted it anyway so you can be making this tomorrow night!

  2. They sound delicious. I have to say though, that I never quite like cottage or shepherd’s pie made with raw mince. It *should* be made with cooked meat left over from a joint and then minced. And eaten with ketchup, by the way!

  3. Brian

    I loved your coment about to much heat hardens the meat balls, we love the taste of chorizo but have found that it goes hard when added to a dish or sauce. However having just started to use a slow cooker the chunks of chorizo stay soft and the flavour seems even better.
    Keep up the good work, you are on my reader list and almost always the first to be read.

  4. Diane

    I have always made meat balls with the addition of bread either soaked in milk, water or wine. I also sometimes add some pancetta and a little grated lemon zest to ring the changes a little. If you want something even more exotic you could try a small cube of mozzarella in the centre of each meat ball then rolled in seasoned flour and gently pan fired. These are good either hot or cold and with or without sauce.

  5. Sandra Jeffery

    The new layout looks good on my bog standard laptop using Windows Xp and also on my Sony Tablet. Thank you. But I can’t get the recipe card to print out! Afraid I must resort to the ‘copy and paste’ method. (Actually that hasn’t worked either – will try again later).

  6. Danny

    Hi Sandra – thanks for confirming that it looks good.

    As regards the Print feature on the recipe card, unfortunately we can’t get it to work. The author of that free add-on (plugin in WordPress terms) seems to have grown weary of supporting it.

    Such a shame because it is by far the best of its type out there. We hope to get it fixed by a pro soon.

    Wish there was a pay-for alternative with guaranteed support.

  7. Michelle in Scotland

    Pictures seem to have disappeared this morning Danny. You probably know – the only pic displaying is Direct Line! (Viewing on bog standard laptop)

  8. Danny

    Yes, Michelle. We switched to a new layout on Sat and this glitch is being investigated by the supplier’s techies. Hopefully normal service will resume shortly in glorious colour :-)

  9. Danny

    The recipe card Print feature is working now.
    Thanks to our guru, Vlad. (contact details available on request for any WordPress technical work you need).

    • Sandra Jeffery

      Thanks Danny, I have just printed out the recipe and can confirm it works a treat. Well done to the guru, Vlad.

  10. Kooky Girl

    I did some meatballs recently with turkey mince, lemon and thyme- and without the tomatoey sauce, but served with salad and coleslaw and rice. It was a suprisingly nice meal. Lower in fat than beef and quite tasty. Hope you are both well, the blog is looking lovely as usual. All the best, Kg.

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