for the meat and sauce, to taste
+ other spices and herbs you like
or chopped tomatoes, canned
I used sweet red pepper paste
Whole black pepper
I prefer it ground, you can also add 2-3 allspice berries
2 for the meatballs and 2 for the sauce
Step by step
We make the meatballs first:
In a small bowl, mix the breadcrumbs with milk and let swell for about ten minutes.
Place the minced meat in a large deep bowl. I recommend grinding the meat at home.
To the meat, add the egg, the breadcrumbs, chopped parsley, salt, pepper to taste and two cloves of garlic, crushed.
Mix thoroughly with your hands until the mixture is smooth.
Wet your hands with water and shape into meatballs, about the size of a walnut.
Arrange them on a cutting board.
Heat oil in a pan and cook the meatballs on all sides until brown.
I fried them in two batches. This depends on the size of the pan, the size of the meatballs and the amount of meat.
When they are done, transfer to a plate.
Now we prepare the sauce:
In the remaining oil in the pan, cook the finely chopped onions and garlic. Don't brown them too much, just let soften a little to release their flavour.
Pour in the mashed tomatoes and the tomato paste.
Mix well and leave over heat until it starts to boil.
If the tomato sauce is thicker, add some water to make it thinner. The water will evaporate anyway during the boiling, so it won't change the taste.
Optionally, after boiling it (for about 10 minutes over low heat) you can pass it through a sieve, for a most fine and smooth sauce. I didn't.
When it's done, season with salt, add sugar, bay leaves, pepper and the other herbs / spices you want.
Add the meatballs to the sauce, stir.
Note. Even if the sauce might initially seem a bit too sour and fragrant, once you add the meatballs and cook them together, it will completely change its taste, for the better.
Now you have 2 options:
- let the pan simmer on low heat for about 10-15 minutes.
- or transfer the mixture to a deep oven dish or Dutch oven and bake for 30-40 minutes.
I chose the pan version, faster and more convenient for me at the time.
Serve hot, with lots of appetite and fresh bread :)