Meatballs are really popular in Ireland and spaghetti with meatballs is one of out best selling dishes in La Cucina! We make them once a week in batches of 200-250, everyone dreads it as they take so long to do as each one is rolled by hand! We normally have 2-3 people doing the rolling and it still takes over an hour, by the end of the bowl we always decide to make some burgers just to finish sooner. This recipe is great for home-made burgers too, we often have them for dinner in a toasted ciabatta and Bru does a really nice sauce with diced onions, white wine and parsley drizzled over the top – delicious!!!

Just to let you know that we have started doing calzone in La Cucina again and they are selling really well! We are selling them as a snack from the cold deli and we change the filling everyday, this week we had aubergine and vine cherry tomato and spinach and ricotta yesterday and we are getting great feedback about them! Alessandro’s soups are going really well and customers are coming in especially asking “what soup has he made today” which is great, it was parma ham and cannellini bean yesterday which I had for my lunch and it was delicious! We’re starting fresh minestrone on Monday so even if it doesn’t sell I’ll be well fed anyway:) He’s keeping all the staff well entertained with his stories of the Italian celebrity lifestyle, I mentioned he works for the owner of Diesel. He works as his main chef on his boat 7 months of the year travelling to all the “beautiful” places like Monaco, Monte Carlo etc and cooking for all of his famous friends at all hours of the morning. He has met famous Italian singers, actors and most importantly for all the males in La Cucina “ITALIAN FOOTBALLERS”  – he was woken up one morning at around 5am by a guy introducing himself as Roberto, he was half asleep and didn’t realize until he was gone that it was Roberto Baggio – Bru’s favourite “Juve” player of all time!!
 
We all find it funny that he has come from there to little La Cucina in Limerick but he wants to learn English so we scored big time!!! It can be difficult too as he is a trained Italian chef and obviously wants to cook his pasta the right way with not too much sauce etc but we already had a couple of complaints that the pasta was too dry so, here we are having to tell this chef to add more and more cream or sauce to his pasta which is probably a bit of an insult to him but that’s just the way it is!! He’s really down to earth though and although he doesn’t agree with it he accepts it and does it our way so everything has worked out fine.

There are many different recipes for meatballs and to be honest I don’t really like them with spaghetti but love when the “MIL” makes “lasagne con polpettini”!!. Most recipes fry the meatballs but as we make so much we cook them in a big pot of tomato sauce but I will give you the most common recipe!!

                
WHAT YOU NEED:

 – 500g mince beef( try and get round steak mince as it is much better quality).

 – 1 tbsp flat leaf parsley chopped

 – 2 garlic cloves chopped

 – 1 egg lightly beaten

 – 1 thick slice of bread

 – 6 tbsp milk

 – 1 onion peeled and finely chopped

 – 1 carrot scrubbed and finely chopped

 – 1 celery stalk finely chopped

 – 2 x 400g cans of Italian tomatoes

 – fresh basil finely chopped

 – 5 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan

 –  olive oil

 – sea salt and black pepper

 – plain flour for dusting

 
WHAT TO DO:

 – put the milk in a bowl and soak the bread in it. Using your hand mash it together. You can use breadcrumbs (55g) instead if you prefer but we use bread.

 – mix together the meat, parsley, 1/2 the garlic, Parmesan, bread, egg and season well! We always taste a little of the raw mixture just to check the seasoning and we are still alive!!:) 

 – shape the mixture into small meatballs, roll lightly in flour and leave aside.

 – to make the sauce fill the base of a saucepan with olive oil, add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic, heat over a medium heat for 5 -7  mins until soft. Add the tomatoes and leave to simmer for 20 mins, add your basil, season and simmer for 5-10 mins.

 – in a wide shallow pan heat the olive oil, add the meatballs and cook until brown all over, turning very gently to avoid breaking them up! Transfer to a plate with paper towels to drain.

 – bring a pot of water to the boil, add salt and your spaghetti, cook until al dente and drain.

 – put your meatballs in a pan, add your tomato sauce, cover with another pan or lid and heat for 10-15 mins until heated through.

 – put your spaghetti back in the pot, add a little of your sauce to your spaghetti and serve your meatballs and remaining sauce on top and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

BUON APPETITO!!

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