Let’s Cook Meatballs Alla Norma.


We’re gonna make Sicilian inspired meatballs, with a tomato Norma sauce and Polenta. So to kick off the meatballs, finely chopped 1/2 a bunch of parsley stalks and all, add salt and mix with 400grams of minced beef this will make 20 balls. Very simply once you’ve mixed it up, just roughly cut it in half and in quarters and then you know you’ve got I’ll get roughly 5 out of each. Making your own is strangely satisfying, you can whip up a load, really easily, in no time at all. Once I’ve rolled them out, I just get my hands wet and I just have a quick roll again while my hands are wet and it seems to make them just a little bit nicer on the outside, a bit smoother. To finish off these babies, it’s all about fennel seeds. Just sprinkle them onto a board or a platter and then get my ball and I’m just gonna toss it across, like that. Having those whole fennel seeds is gonna give it texture on the outside is just a joy they’re gonna be gorgeous. So just have a little toss-up, see how you just made it a little wet on the outside, it really does make a difference. And then get them frying, keep them on the move as they cook until golden and juicy. Okay, so let me show you the Norma sauce. Essentially it’s sweet and sour, gorgeous sort of Caramelised aubergine, with a sweet tomato sauce, it’s really really good on pasta and particularly with meatballs, Cut an aubergine up into nice little chunks. I want you to over-season them, we’re gonna squeeze most of that salt away. Historically you would salt aubergine to remove the bitterness out of the aubergine, but through breeding and modern-day seeds, they’re not bitter anymore really, okay, for me, it’s about softening the aubergine so it actually looks nicer in the pan and also getting seasoning into the aubergine making it delicious. After 10 minutes or so, squeeze away the excess liquid drawn out by the salt and then on a medium-high heat frying a little olive oil until they start to change Colour, now crush in one or two cloves of garlic. I’m sort of cheating, I could use dried Chilli, I could use fresh Chilli, but I’m trying to bring out the Agrodolce, sweet and sourness that you get in so many wonderful dishes from Sicily. So I’m actually using sweet Chilli dipping sauce. So just a couple of tablespoons saves me a bit of time, go in with some balsamic vinegar, a tin of tomatoes and waste none of that tomato juice, that’s all you need for a sweet rich companion to those lovely friendly meatballs. Put them into the tomato sauce and just let them simmer away. Now for an ingredient that feeds for half the price of spaghetti or mash, I’m talking Polenta This is quick-cook Polenta, its fantastic and it’s basically dried sweet corn which has been milled, but it’s really good to learn new things to mop up juices with your dinners. Season one litre of boiling water with salt then go in with 200 grams of Polenta, keep whisking that, only takes a minute and a half to cook. You want it to be oozy, add a nice knob of butter and a grating of Parmesan. And it’s the butter and the cheese that really transforms this to another level. A quick little whip and we’re done. When they serve this dish in Italy, they always pull out a big board, yes this is very big and over-the-top, but I don’t care. Get this Polenta and they just pour it on the middle like that. And the interesting thing about this dish is Polenta is very much a northern Italian dish, but the normal is a southern Italian dish so it’s quite political what we’re doing right now, we’re bringing the two together Normally they argue and fight, but today they are as one in harmony. While the Polenta is nice and oozy, pour-over those lovely meatballs in all that rich delicious Norma sauce, and reserve a little chopped parsley and some Parmesan for a final scatter. If you take that and serve it up, that my friends, is a phenomenon.


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