An Italian American classic that is as easy to make as it is satisfying to eat. The meatball recipe is a very simple one, with basic seasoning but that all important soft-giving texture, aided by being poached in the sauce. This might offend both Italians and American, but the Smoked Chilli Ketchup is the key ingredient, giving the sauce sweetness, depth and a chilli heat, mellowed by the cooking and the mix of flavours from the meatballs. The recipe would also work perfectly well as a quick pasta dish too.
80g dried breadcrumbs
250g beef mince
250g pork mince
½ onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
15g 22-month aged Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
1 jar Tomato Triturado (or passata)
4tbsp Smoked Chilli Ketchup
4 small ciabatta or sub rolls
2 x 125g mozzarella balls (not buffalo), drained and thinly sliced
Salt and pepper, to taste
Combine the milk and breadcrumbs in a small bowl and leave for a few minutes for the milk to be absorbed.
In a large bowl, mix the beef and pork mince, onion, 1 minced garlic clove, Parmesan, the breadcrumb mixture (break this up as you add it) and season generously with salt and pepper. Use your hands (wear gloves if you prefer) to mix everything together, then shape into balls around 4-5 cm wide. Wet your hand with a little water to prevent them from sticking, place them on a tray then put in the fridge whilst you make a start on the sauce.
Place a wide pan on a low heat and add the Olive Oil and remaining garlic. Bring the heat up a little and cook the garlic until it begins to change colour, then add the Tomato Triturado, rinsing the jar out with a little water. Bring the heat up so it begins to bubble and add the Ketchup, stirring to combine, then allow the sauce to reduce for 15 minutes or until it has thickened a little. Taste and season with a salt and pepper (if preparing for later, allow the sauce to cool).
Heat and oven to 150C/Fan 130C/Gas Mark 2. Take the meatballs from the fridge and place in the pan. Bring the heat up to a very gentle simmer then cover with a lid. Cook for 9-10 minutes, turning the heat down if the sauce begins to bubble aggressively, as the idea is to poach the meatballs. Remove the lid, turn the meatballs over then cover again and cook for another 7-8 minutes. The meatballs should be cooked through but still soft and tender.
When the meatballs are nearly cooked, place the rolls in the oven to warm them through for 4-5 minutes. Once warmed and lightly crispy on the outside, remove and cut each roll lengthways into 2 pieces.
Divide the meatballs between each base then spoon some of the sauce on top. Add the mozzarella, then a little more sauce and top the other piece of bread.