Meals and Courses

  • 400 g (13 oz) dried tagliatelle or fettuccine
  • 2 slices of stale bread, crusts removed, broken into small pieces
  • 75 ml (3 fl oz) milk
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 spring onions or 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 750 g (1½ lb) minced beef
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
  • freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
  • 300 ml (½ pint) dry white wine
  • 400 g (13 oz) can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and black pepper
  • basil leaves, to garnish

For the meatballs, soak the bread in the milk in a large bowl. Meanwhile, heat half the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the spring onions or onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes until soft and just beginning to brown.

Add the minced meat to the bread and mix well. Add the cooked onion and garlic, the Parmesan and nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Work together with your hands until well combined and smooth. Shape into 28 even-sized balls. Heat the remaining oil in a large, nonstick frying pan, add the meatballs, in batches, and cook over a high heat, turning frequently, until golden brown. Transfer to a shallow ovenproof dish.

Pour the wine and tomatoes into the frying pan and bring to the boil, scraping up any sediment from the base. Add the bay leaves, season with salt and pepper and boil rapidly for 5 minutes. Pour the sauce over the meatballs, cover with foil and bake in a preheated oven, 180°C (350°F), Gas Mark 4, for 1 hour, or until tender.

When the meatballs and sauce are almost ready, cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water according to the packet instructions until al dente. Drain thoroughly and serve with the meatballs and sauce. Garnish with basil leaves and a scattering of Parmesan cheese.

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