Simply the word meatball brings nostalgic joy to my heart, reminding me of when mum used to have them bubbling away on the hob in a huge casserole dish. They usually only made an appearance by special request for a birthday dinner. I remember the succulent balls of juicy beef drenched in a rich tomato sauce, crumbly parmesan melted over the top and aprons all round so we didn’t stain our school shirts.
Regretfully I’ve never managed to replicate them. My beef meatballs have always ended up dry and disappointingly chewy, not the soft texture they should be. I was initially dubious about pork meatballs (let’s face it, pork is bland) but after the first bite I knew I had finally mastered my own version of meaty, sauce-covered balls! Cue innuendos…
I had the idea for these pork meatballs last year when I made a more basic version of the recipe. I made a note on my phone at the time to spice them up – quite literally – with a few extra ingredients.
To me they are everything a meatball should be: holds its shape while cooking but like magic falls apart when you eat it, in that melt-in-the-mouth kind of way. Chilli brings the pork to life while the Spanish flavours of chorizo, paprika and olives add a spicy, exotic twist to an Italian classic.
My birthday is coming up soon so I’ll put in a special request at home, for old time’s sake. Until then though, these porky balls will more than satisfy my craving!
500g pork mince
2 red chillies
2 peppers (one red, one green)
½ 225g ring chorizo
2 garlic cloves
400g chopped tomatoes
300ml chicken stock
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp tomato puree
½ jar pitted green olives
1 tin butter beans
- First, make the meatballs. Finely dice the chillies and keep the seeds. In a large mixing bowl, add the pork mince along with the chillies and a generous amount of seasoning. Mix everything together thoroughly with your hands until combined. Be careful not to touch your eyes or any other delicate areas of your body for the rest of the day. Chillies hurt.
- Split the pork mixture into four roughly even-sized balls. Then split each of these again into 3 so that you have 12 meatballs. Roll these between the palm of your hands to make a good meatball shape.
- In a large non-stick frying pan heat a good slug of sunflower oil on a high heat. When the oil is hot, carefully place six of the meatballs in the pan, one at a time. Use cooking tongs or two forks to turn the meatballs regularly, ensuring they get get an even golden brown colour on all sides. When all six are seared, remove from the pan, set aside on a plate and repeat with the remaining six.
- Leave the meatballs to one side while making the sauce. Dice the chorizo and slice the two peppers into thin strips. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a casserole dish over a medium heat and add the chorizo and peppers to the pot. Cook for 3 – 4 mins until the chorizo has released its fat and the peppers are softened. Crush the garlic, add to the pan along with the paprika, and cook for 1 – 2 mins more.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, chicken stock, tomato puree, butter beans and olives and bring to the boil. Add the meatballs to the pan, ensuring they are covered by the sauce. Cover with a lid and cook in the middle of the oven at Gas 4 for one hour, until the sauce has thickened and the meatballs are cooked through and tender. Serve with rice or crusty bread.