Reaching boiling point
Pot of doom lurks in friends’ kitchen, strikes when making pasta
ABOUT a year ago I made an enemy – the pot of doom.
This pot, or large saucepan, was responsible for me spending the better part of my holidays visiting the burns clinic after I poured boiling water (which was in said pot) all over my fingers.
I was cooking a thank you dinner for some friends I was staying with at the time and the pot was a little heavy and the wine flowed perhaps a little freely.
As I was straining the pasta, I lost my grip on the pot, immersing my hand in the boiling water.
Anyway, a year on and the hand is healed, even if the ill feeling towards the pot isn’t.
But I once again found myself at my friends’ place, cooking them another thank you dinner and needing to use the pot of doom to cook up enough pasta for six people to go with this roast garlic meatball dish.
This dish is a bit of a favourite going into the cooler months and I love it because it’s pretty much a classic. Roasting the garlic changes the flavours a little from the usual way I do it, which is just packing in a whole heap of raw crushed garlic.
Two heads of garlic may seem like I am trying to ward off vampires, but because the roasted garlic flavour is much more subtle, you still won’t actually find it that strong.
The beauty of this dish is it’s easy to whip up a whole heap for a bigger group or freeze the leftovers.
I have kept the sauce particularly simple but you could cook down a little red wine with the passata – do that in a saucepan before adding to the baking dish. You could also add a little chilli or you could add olives and more herbs.
I decided to go for the quick and easy version because this dinner was a thank you to my friends for hosting my 30th birthday party. It was the night after my birthday party and well, you can imagine my enthusiasm for leaving the lounge to work in the kitchen wasn’t at its usual level.
As for the safety side of things, this time around I didn’t have any wine and there was full supervision as I was straining water from the pot of doom, which I had cooked our pepper and basil pappadrelle pasta in. But you could serve with crusty bread if you have your own pot of doom issues.
ROAST GARLIC AND PARMESAN MEATBALLS
INGREDIENTS: 2 heads of garlic 500g pork mince 500g beef mince 1 cup of breadcrumbs 1 egg lightly whisked 1 ½ cups of parmesan cheese Salt and pepper 700ml tomato passata 1 ½ tablespoons brown sugar 1 brown onion, diced Handful of basil leaves, chopped Olive oil
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Take the outer skin off the heads of garlic, leaving the head intact and the skin on the individual cloves. Cut the top of the head of garlic across ways so you are removing just the tips of the cloves and making the head flat across the top. Drizzle with oil and wrap in foil. Place in oven for 30 minutes or until tender. Set aside to cool slightly. Meanwhile, combine meat, breadcrumbs, egg, ¾ cup of parmesan and a generous amount of salt and pepper in a bowl and use your hands to mix it all through. Once the garlic has cooled enough to handle, squeeze cloves out in a bowl. They should be tender enough to mix into a paste. Add the roast garlic paste to the meat and combine well. Form mixture into meatballs about the size of a golf ball or a bit smaller (depending on how quickly you want them to cook). Heat a splash of oil in a fry pan. Add onion and cook over medium heat until soft. Remove from pan and place in baking dish. Add another splash of oil, then a batch of meatballs being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Allow to brown for a few minutes each side, then place into a large baking dish. Repeat with next batch until all are browned. Pour the tomato passata into the baking dish. Add the sugar to the passata jar with ½ cup of water, give it a good shake and then add to the baking dish. Place in oven and cook for about 30 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through. Remove from oven. Sprinkle basil over the meatballs, then cover with remaining cheese. Return to oven for a further 10 minutes. Serve with your choice of crusty bread or pasta.
To freeze, set aside before adding basil and cheese, cool and pack into freezer-safe