There’s a bakery here in Sydney called Bourke street bakery. It’s become an institution with Sydney siders for their excellent bread, yummy baked tarts, and their delicious sausage rolls. My favourite is the pork and fennel. And inspiration for this recipe comes from this excellent combination of pork mince and fennel seed. I love fennel seeds. For a tiny seed, they pack a punch of flavour. A little heat helps release the aniseed taste, which disperses through the mince, and imparts a soft, sweet fennel flavour. If you’ve never experimented with them here’s your chance.
As you’ll see in the recipe, the meatballs are actually half pork mince and half veal mince. This is what the Italians use when making meatballs. This is the real thing. Now a word of advice. Don’t be tempted to substitute the veal mince for beef mince. The flavour of beef mince just doesn’t compare. Also, buy your mince from a butcher not a supermarket. A butcher tends to grind their mince on a coarser setting than a supermarket does. Coarser ground mince is what you need for a good meatball.
Yum, I’m getting hungry! On to the methodical task of rolling the meatballs. Next a fast red wine sauce, and a quick cooking time of about 15 minutes.When it’s time to eat, I serve them with fettuccine or linguini. But you could also serve them with mash potato, or if you’re feeling adventurous, and want to fancy up the meal, soft polenta with any steamed green would also be delicious. There’s no right or wrong way to serve them, as long as they’re hot and fresh and straight from the pan.
Pork and fennel meatballs
For the meatballs
250g pork mince
250g veal mince
1 red onion, diced
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 cloves garlic, grated
½ cup bread crumbs
For the sauce
¾ cup red wine
700g jar passata (see note below)
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 tsp sugar
Glug extra virgin olive oil
fettuccine or linguini
Place both minces in a large bowl. Heat a small fry pan with 1 tbsp oil; add onions and fennel seeds and cook gently for 3 minutes. Place onions in bowl with mince; add garlic, bread crumbs, egg, salt and pepper. Use your hands to squish and squeeze the mince till well combined. Roll meatballs into 2cm diameter balls and place on a tray.
Place red wine in a medium pan and bring to the boil. Reduce by half. Add passatta, garlic, rosemary, sugar and extra virgin olive oil. Bring to the boil, season with salt and pepper and turn off the heat.
Heat a large fry pan with 1 tbsp vegetable oil. Place meatballs in pan and seal on all sides (3-4 minutes). Add red wine sauce to meatballs, cover with a lid and simmer meatballs gently in sauce for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in plenty of salted, boiling water till just al dente. Drain pasta. Divide between bowls, ladel meatballs on top of pasta and sprinkle with chopped parsley.
Note – Passata is a smooth, pureed tomato sauce. Keep a bottle stocked in the pantry at all times. It’s great for a quick pasta sauce.