Meatballs were not something that I grew up eating. My dad was an excellent cook – but meatballs just weren’t on his radar. And so they were not something that I even really thought about – let alone cook for myself when I left home. My life was meatball-less.
That is, until I had children. I will always remember the first ever batch of meatballs I made. My eldest child was just starting to eat meals with us and I was conscious that my husband was not in love with the toddler friendly meals I was preparing. Enter stage left, the Chicken and Vegetable Meatball.
In my mind it was going to be a beautiful thing – a soft textured yet tasty ball of goodness served in a moreish sauce made from homegrown tomatoes and basil. Why else would I have spent the best part of 3 hours creating the family meal? I should have known that mealtime success is often inversely proportional to the time you spend planning and preparing the meal – as it was that fateful day! I’ll save you the gory details – but suffice it to say that my husband didn’t make it home for dinner and my daughter spat the meatballs back at me. She had a point – my attempt at “soft textured” had landed closer to “squidgy”.
I was not deterred, however, and can proudly say that I can now make a pretty mean family friendly meatball. Little kids get them without the sauce (which is how they like them in my house!) which means I can make a sauce that turns pretty plain meatballs into a yummy meal for big kids and adults.
300gr mince (I use whatever I have, whatever is on special)
approx 300gr grated vegetables (use whatever you have on hand and just mix in as much as you are happy using – our favourites are carrots, zucchini & broccoli stem)
3 shallots, chopped
1/3 to 1/2 bottle of Stubbs Original BBQ Sauce (depending on how saucy you like it)
1 to 2 cups stock (I have used both beef and chicken stock for this recipe – the quantity depends on how saucy you like it)
Mix mince, vegetables and eggs together in a bowl.
Heat oil in a heavy based frying pan over medium heat.
Shape mince mixture into meatballs and fry in batches in frying pan. As the meatballs are done remove them to a bowl. Add more oil as necessary.
When all the meatballs are cooked (and removed), add the shallots to the pan and cook until caramelised (add more oil if necessary).
Add Stubbs Original BBQ Sauce and stock and stir until combined. Simmer until reduced. Add meatballs (after removing any for little children who don’t want the sauce), stir to coat with sauce and allow to warm through.
Serve (we have cous cous and vegetables).
This quantity easily does our family of 2 big eaters, 2 little eaters and a tiny eater – with some left over.