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Stuck in the middle with you

A summer spent with Tony Soprano and family left my mouth watering. Not because I have a hit list. Because when the mobsters weren’t whacking people, they were eating. David Chase’s mother issues aside, he clearly ate well as a kid, because the food is as central to the story as the other shenanigans. Holy Hell, the shenanigans. Tony Soprano didn’t need a therapist, he needed a whack to the side of the head with The Female Eunuch.

I’m certain I was Italian in a past life. Actually, a Jewish-Italian mix. Oi vey-o.  Their language is the second sexiest in the world (Russian rocks), and the Italians design like no other nation. My hunch is that Italian food is the best in the world. It’s as easy as you need it to be, or as complicated as you have time for. And who isn’t comforted by a bowl of spag bol?

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I’ve been waiting for the weather to cool, so I could make meatballs. I’ve never made them before, so I scoured my recipes and cookbooks, and decided to go with Andy Bunn’s recipe in his Seasonal Kitchen book. He serves the meatballs in a rich tomato sauce, with tagliatelli. I ended up eating them with and without the pasta; they are perfect either way.

Andy’s rich tomato sauce is appropriately named; with both tinned and fresh tomatoes and passata and very little else, it is heaven in a pan. Being a meatball novice, I was surprised to see cream and breadcrumbs in the meatball mix. My first batch I used a bagel – cos that’s all that was in the pantry – the second batch homemade white bread. Personally, I prefer the density of the bagel, but that’s probably just the pseudo-Jewish in me!  I used half the mince the recipe called for, and used beef not veal. Actually, I halved the meat recipe, but kept the sauce recipe as is. The second time around I made the balls smaller, and didn’t fry them off first, just covered them in sauce and baked them in the oven.

Meatball Mix

It’s a pretty time consuming recipe, this is definitely not something you would whip up after a day at the office. You could split the recipe up, and do a bit each night, or you could spend a Sunday afternoon in the kitchen. I did both, and both produced perfect results. They also freeze and reheat well.

I’m not a domestic goddess by a long stretch, nor do I aspire to be one. But I think, should Viggo ever get his act together and come over for dinner, this will be the dish that gets him. It’s not the prettiest dish (see below), but it is melt in the mouth, and will fill your belly and your soul.

Finished meatballs

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