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Meatballs : the new stir fry 

“Oh you’re a student? So you live on takeaways and stir fries then?” Sound familiar? I don’t know how many times I’ve been asked that question. Student life is always busy, so you don’t have time to spend hours cooking, but that doesn’t mean you have to live on ready meals to have a quick and easy meal. One of my favourite staple meals is homemade meatballs, which you can have the traditional Italian way, or you can go very British and serve them with mash and vegetables with onion and mushroom gravy.

Cheap to make and quick to cook, these really are a lifesaver when you need a hearty meal before you dash off out again, using simple ingredients you probably already have. I’d definitely recommend these for meat lovers, as you can use any sort of minced meat or even chopped up chorizo sausage to make them your own.

Method

I use around 2/3 of a 500g packet of minced beef, (I usually split it into three and freeze them, so two of the three parcels, defrosted) which makes between 6-8 meatballs depending on how large you want them. Empty the meat into a bowl and add to this about half a beaten egg, to bind the meatballs together. If you are making the Italian version of the recipe, crush one SMALL clove of garlic (if you put too much in this can be a little overpowering) and add to the mixture. Give the mixture a good stir until the meat has all separated. This next part isn’t for those who are squeamish. Split the meat into as many meatballs as you wish and form into balls with your hands. Then bring in the student lifesaver- cornflour. You wouldn’t think so but you can use this for all sorts and it’s really cheap (around 50p from Aldi) especially good when it comes to thickening sauces up (as I found out making a rather runny curry in halls). Sprinkle a little on the work surface and roll each meatball in the flour to coat it. In a frying pan, heat up a good amount of oil and add the meatballs (and optionally half an onion, diced). Whilst these are browning (don’t forget to turn them so they don’t burn), put your pasta in boiling water and simmer until soft. Once the meatballs are brown, add the sauce all over. For this you literally just need the student’s best friend a tin of chopped tomatoes, which you season with salt and black pepper and a sprinkling of oregano or mixed herbs if you have them (these are really cheap to buy and last you ages, Aldi sell them for around £1). If you have a lid for the pan put this over the top or alternatively use a plate, then leave them for fifteen to twenty minutes, or until they are completely brown but still moist inside.

Then simply drain the pasta, serve up the meatballs and voila! Quick and easy tea, sorted.