Meatballs in rich tomato and red wine sauce

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The pasta and wine I used for this dish is from the Alsace region of France, which is located on the west bank of the river Rhine, between the Rhine and the Vosges mountains. To the north and east Alsace shares a border with Germany; to the south with German-speaking Switzerland and finally to the west with Lorraine and Franche Comté. Making Alsatian cuisine quite different from the rest of France, pasta is one of the typical dishes from this region. Dishes from Alsace are also known to be packed full of flavours, rich and hearty with German names. A definite place to visit for another gastronomic adventure! bon appétit!

KITCHEN KIT:
A large bowl, a pasta sauce pan and a large pan with a lid.

Ingredients Serves 2:

For the meatballs mixture:
1.  4 sausages (sausage meat removed from casting)
2.  150g extra lean minced beef
3.  ½ tsp. salt
4.  ½ tsp. pepper
5.  ½ tsp. dried chili flakes
6.  ½ tsp. herb de Provence

For cooking the meatballs:
7.  2 tbsp. olive oil

For the tomato and red wine sauce:
8.  1 tbsp. Butter
9.  2 rashers of bacon, sliced
10. 1 tbsp. herb de Provence
11. ¼ tsp. chili flakes
12. ½ tsp salt
13. ½ tsp. ground black pepper
14. 1 small onion, chopped
15. 2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
16. 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
17. 1 tbsp. tomato paste
18. 400g. or 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
19. 150ml. good quality red wine (for this recipe I used Domaine Barmès Buecher – Pinot Noir Vieilles Vignes 2006)
20. 300ml. beef stock

For the pasta:
21. 120g. dried Monschel pasta (I used a pasta by Reflets de France)
22. 2 pinches of salt
23. 1 tbsp. oil
24. 1.5 litres of hot water

For the garnish:
25. A handful of roughly chopped parsley

For the meatballs:
1.  In a bowl mix all the meatballs mixture, ingredients listed above. Then make this mixture into small round balls. Set aside on a plate.
2.  On a large pan over a high heat, add 2 tbsp. of olive oil. Add the meat balls and cook for 3-4 minutes until the meatballs are cooked and brown on all sides.
3.  Remove the meatballs from the pan once cooked and set aside on a clean plate.

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For the tomato and red wine sauce:
4.  To keep the flavors of the meat in your sauce, using the same large pan you cooked the meat balls in and add the butter and bacon. Over a high heat, cook the bacon for 2 minutes, then add the herb de provence, chili flakes, salt, pepper, onions, celery and carrots; cook further for 2 minutes.
5.  Finally add the tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, red wine and beef stock. Once the sauce starts to boil lower the heat, add the cooked meatballs into the sauce and gently simmer for 15 minutes.

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For the pasta:
6.  Meanwhile, while your sauce cooks, prepare the pasta. Place the pasta pan over a high heat; add the hot water, salt and oil. Allow to boil then add the pasta in.
7.  Cook the pasta for 7 minutes and drain. (If you are using a different type of pasta or a different brand of pasta follow the pasta packet instructions for cooking time. as this varies.)

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Plate the pasta into a plate and add the meatballs and sauce. Garnish with some chopped parsley and serve immediately.

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Note:
Ready-made meatballs are now available for purchased in many super markets in the UK. If you are in a rush, you can buy these ready-made meatballs instead. Though, if you have the time to make the meatballs adding your own herbs and spices into it will surely make a lovely difference and personal touch to the dish.

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