March madness with mighty meatballs

Foodie recipe
Ian Leatt

I, like many of you, have cravings for certain types of foods. It seems, upon reflection, to be a seasonal thing with me. Are we all the same? From hot soul-foods in winter to delicate playful foods in the summer, Every season brings something particular to my mind. 

There is something to be said about how we all indulge with our favorite foods. From salads to steak, we all have our own go-to. From a simple sandwich to fine dining, I always have my own special comfort food.

Meatballs are high on this list and not something I make all that often, but when I do, I get totally immersed in the flavours. The intoxicating, tempting aromas that emanate from the stove leave me swooning with a certain umami feeling. 

Now my mouth is watering, my mind racing. I have a craving that needs to be comforted. Time for some balls. 

cheese meatballs
Hot cheesy madness.

For the Meatballs: 

1 medium onion
500g ground beef
500g ground pork
4 cloves freshly crushed garlic
1 cup fresh seasoned bread crumbs
3 tablespoons parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon freshly chopped oregano
1 teaspoon freshly chopped parsley
1 egg (beaten)
I red pepper (finely chopped)
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

For the sauce:

1 large can chopped tomatoes
2 cups freshly chopped mushrooms 
1 teaspoon freshly chopped oregano
1 teaspoon freshly chopped parsley
1 small finely chopped onion
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil

For the garnish:

500g fresh grated mozzarella cheese
3 teaspoons fresh chopped basil


Except for the olive oil, place all ingredients into a large bowl, blend together and mix thoroughly. Once completed, roll golf ball sized meatballs, squeezed together so as not to separate when searing them. 

In a large pot, add olive oil and bring to a medium high heat. Add the onions, garlic and mushrooms. Stir for 5 minutes or until the onion appears translucent. Add the large can of chopped tomatoes and bring to a boil. Turn down to simmer and add the herbs. 

Turn on the slow cooker to a high setting. Once hot, pour in the tomato mixture. 

Using a large frying pan, on a medium to high heat, pour in the olive oil, once hot add a number of meatballs. Sear on all sides placing them, once seared, into the slow cooker and tomato sauce.

Once all meatballs are well seared and covered with the sauce, place the lid on the slow cooker. Once it comes to boil, turn down to a medium heat and leave to simmer for 3 to 4 hours. 

Place a large oven-proof dish, le creuset should you have one, alongside the slow cooker and carefully remove all meatballs into the dish. Pour over the tomato sauce. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese all over the top, it doesn’t matter if it is layered, it will melt, adding even more flavour. Place in to the oven on 3500 for half hour, or until all the cheese has melted. 

To serve, remove from oven, placing the dish onto a wooden chopping board. Decorate with freshly chopped basil. Serve tableside with fresh spaghetti. 

Enjoy happy March madness, folks. 

Ian Leatt is general manager of Pegasus Publications and a trained chef.