Bertie's Balls™ ~ Meatballs in red wine sauce

time 1.5hrs+
serves 4-6
difficulty Medium

Sorry about calling them Berties Balls but he insisted. This recipe makes 12 quite large balls, so you only really want 2-3 balls per serving. You can use this recipe to make smaller balls if you prefer, but they'll be much juicier if they're a bit bigger.


Basic Balls

  • 450 grams of beef mince
  • 450 grams of pork mince
  • Panko breadcrumbs, or blitz up your own stale bread.
  • 1 small/medium onion, grated
  • 2/3 cloves of grated garlic
  • 1 egg for binding
  • Optional Extras

  • Big handful of parmesan or any other hard cheese
  • Lemon zest (1 lemons worth)
  • Dried herbs like basil or oregano
  • Chopped up basil stalks
  • For The Sauce

  • Half bottle of red Italian wine
  • Whole tinned tomatoes
  • Tomato puree
  • 📖Method

  • Add your mince, bread crumbs, onion, garlic, and egg with some salt and pepper (plus any extras you might be using) to a large bowl and mix together using your hands.
  • Once mixed, shape into 12, evenly sized balls. They will be big. You can opt to do more balls, slightly smaller, but bigger is better 👀.
  • To help them set, pop them in the fridge for anything up to a day, but half an hour will do. This is totally optional, but it will help.
  • Put a deep lidded pan, cast iron or casserole dish on a medium / high heat
  • Add a glug of olive oil.
  • Start frying your meatballs in batches. Unless you have an enormous pan, do 3-4 at a time.
  • Remove once they are golden/deep brown. They don't need to be cooked all the way through at this point. You finish them in the sauce.
  • Once all your meatballs are fried off, turn down the heat.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of tomato puree and if the pan looks a little dry, add some more oil, and fry for a couple minutes, mixing it around with the fat, scraping up any stuck bits.
  • Turn the heat back up, and pour in half bottle of Italian (not too expensive, but good enough to drink) red wine.
  • Reduce down by about half, making sure the tomato puree is mixed in.
  • Once you have a syrup-like texture, that coats the back of the spoon, add in blitzed tomatoes.
  • Turn down the heat to medium / low and wait until the tomatoes are heated through.
  • Once the tomatoes are up to temperature, add your meatballs back in. They should be covered or at least almost. If they're not, top up with a little water or stock.
  • Pop a lid on and reduce to a low heat and allow to cook for at least an hour, until the sauce thickens.
  • Serve by either stirring through pasta, on top of rice, or with some greens on the side.