I made a variation of this once before. We had arrived at our holiday let late on a Friday night after horrendous London traffic and a delayed ferry journey. I had intended to make our family’s stalwart Sausage Sauce, but I didn’t have the time or the patience. So I ended up taking the sausage out of the casings and making meatballs from them, which we had with pasta.
What I didn’t do that night, and what Nigella has ingeniously included here, is a very easy tomato sauce that you add to the sausages to finish it all off. Yum.
This is the perfect weeknight meal: it’s easy, it’s relatively quick and it’s delicious. It doesn’t require any special ingredients. In fact, she says in the introduction that you don’t necessarily need to use Italian sausages– even English would do. (I would stick with Italians, but that’s just because our amazing butcher, Dring’s, makes a fine specimen of one).
Would I make this again? Absolutely. In fact, I’ve already made it twice this month. Typing this up is making me ponder the possibility that tonight may be time number three.
Shortcut Sausage Meatballs from “Nigellissima”
450-500g Italian Sausages
2 x 15ml tablespoons Garlic Oil
4 fat or 6 spindly Spring Onions, finely sliced
1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
60ml White Wine or Vermouth
2 x 400g Chopped Tomatoes, plus water to rinse 1/2 can
2 Bay Leaves
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Chopped Fresh Parsley, to serve (optional)
Squeeze the sausage meat from the sausages and roll small cherry-tomato-size meatballs out of it, putting them onto a clingfilm-lined baking tray as you go. Your final tally should be around 40.
Heat the oil in a large, have-based pan or flameproof casserole and add the meatballs, frying them until golden; as they become firmer, nudge them up in the pan to make room for the rest, if you ca’t fit them all in at first.
When all the meatballs are in the pan and browned, add the spring onion and oregano and stir about gently.
Add the wine or vermouth and chopped tomatoes, then fill half of one of the empty cans with cold water and tip it into the other empty can, then into the pan. The can-to-can technique is just my way of making sure you will out as much of the tomato residue as possible.
Pop in the bay leaves and let the pan come to a fast simmer. Leave to cook like this, uncovered, for 20 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly and the meatballs are cooked through. Check the sauce for seasoning, adding some salt and pepper, if you like.
During this time you can cook whatever you fancy to go with the meatballs, whether it be pasta, rice, whatever.
Once the meatballs are ready, you can eat them immediately or let them stand, off the heat but still on the stove, for 15 minutes. The sauce will thicken up a bit on standing. Should your diners be other than children who baulk at green bits, sprinkle with parsley on serving.