The molten mozzarella centre of these large-scale meatballs is a welcome and delicious surprise. These are a great low-key entertaining option - you can prepare the sauce and the meatballs in advance, assemble them in their baking dishes and have them ready to pop in the oven just before guests arrive.
- 50 ml olive oil
- ½ onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 kg pork and fennel sausages, meat squeezed out of skins
- 60 gm fresh white breadcrumbs
- 40 gm finely grated parmesan, plus extra to serve
- 1 egg
- ½ cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- ½ tsp dried chilli flakes
- 2 balls buffalo mozzarella (about 200gm each), halved
- To serve: extra-virgin olive oil and basil
- 750 ml tomato passata
- 150 ml dry white wine
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 long red chillies, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3 basil sprigs
- 1For tomato-chilli sugo, process all ingredients in a food processor to a fine purée and season to taste. Transfer to a large saucepan, bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, reduce heat to medium and cook until thickened (10-15 minutes).
- 2Meanwhile, heat half the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, add onion and garlic, and sauté until tender (4-5 minutes). Transfer to a bowl, cool completely, then add sausage meat, breadcrumbs, parmesan, egg, parsley and chilli, and mix well. Divide mixture into 4, then flatten each out to an oval. Dust a mozzarella half in flour, place in the centre of an oval, fold to enclose and roll to seal and form a ball. Set aside on a tray and repeat with remaining meat and mozzarella, then cover and refrigerate to rest for 30 minutes.
- 3Preheat oven to 180C. Heat remaining oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add meatballs and brown all over (4-5 minutes). Place each meatball in a shallow ovenproof bowl, ladle tomato sauce over and drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil. Scatter with extra parmesan, season to taste and bake until bubbling and cooked through (15-20 minutes). Serve hot scattered with basil and with crusty bread.
Drink Suggestion: Savoury sangiovese. Drink suggestion by Max Allen