I caught an episode of Jamie Oliver’s new ‘5 ingredients’ cookery show the other night and I thought I’d give his meatball carbonara a whirl. He’s very keen to prove that you don’t need a lot of skill, time or complex lists of ingredients to prepare good quality, freshly made meals and this turned out to be a tasty, easy midweek supper. This quantity serves two easily – the key is to use a good quality butcher’s sausage with a nice balance of pork, fat and rusk and to roll the meatballs in a fine dust of freshly ground pepper. I’ve also added a dash of chilli powder and ground fennel to the pepper to make the crust extra tasty.
- 250g fresh tagliatelle or 125g dried
- 4 good quality butchers sausages – I use my normal ‘Mr. Hubbard’ sausages
- Generous handful of curly parsley
- 2 large eggs
- 30g Parmesan cheese, grated
- 3 teaspoons black peppercorns (I used a dash of chilli powder and ground fennel too)
- Cook the pasta in a pan of boiling salted water according to the packet instructions, then drain, reserving a mugful of cooking water. (If you’re using dried pasta this will take about 11 minutes so you can do this bit first. If you’re using fresh, it will take about 4 minutes and you need to make the meatballs first).
- Cover a clean kitchen surface or chopping board with a fine even dusting of freshly ground black pepper. Jamie did this with a mortar and pestle and then sieved it – I just used my pepper grinder on a fine setting, much quicker.
- Slit the skins and squeeze the sausage meat out, then, with wet hands, quickly shape into about 16 even-sized balls. Each sausage can be pinched out to make 4 or 5 meatballs. Roll and coat them in the black pepper, then cook in a large non- stick frying pan (I used my high sided wok-style pan as it made it easier to add and coat the pasta in the sauce) on a medium heat with ½ a tablespoon of olive oil. Fry until golden and cooked through, turning regularly, then turn the heat off.
- Finely chop the parsley, stalks and all, beat it with the eggs and a splash of pasta cooking water in a bowl, then finely grate and mix in three-quarters of the Parmesan.
- Toss the drained pasta into the sausage pan, pour in the egg mixture, and toss/stir for 1 minute off the heat. The egg will gently cook in the residual heat – take it off the heat quickly or the egg will scramble. Loosen with a good splash of reserved cooking water, season with a few more twists of pepper, and scatter with the remaining Parmesan. Serve in warm bowls (I warm mine in the microwave), eat immediately!
- NB: if you made the crispy anchovy crumbs in the cauliflower risotto recipe I published earlier and you have some left, they are really delicious sprinkled over this.