I’ve been desperate to get the slow cooker going again this week, the cold weather somehow just makes me want a throw a load of random ingredients in together to simmer away for a few hours…creating something comforting and delicious. I love the convenience of prepping it all early afternoon and then just dishing up with some pasta at dinner time. Hardly any washing up and more time to enjoy a glass of vino.

I had a few bits knocking around in the cupboards and I came up with this recipe – beef meatballs in a tomato and mushroom sauce. You will need (to serve 3-4 depending on appetite):

For the meatballs:
– olive oil
– 450g beef mince
– 1 large grated onion
– 2 teaspoons of dried oregano
– good couple of pinches of salt
– good couple of pinches of black pepper

For the sauce:
– 1 large finely chopped onion
– 3 finely chopped garlic cloves
– a tin of chopped tomatoes
– pack of button/chestnut mushrooms
– 3 tablespoons of tomato purée
– 1 tablespoon of dried oregano
– generous squirt of tomato ketchup
– 250ml white wine
– 250ml beef stock
– a good couple of pinches of salt
– a good couple of pinches of black pepper

To make the meatballs:

– Break up the mince in a large bowl.
– Add the grated onion and oregano to the meat mixture and combine by hand, adding a good couple of pinches of salt and black pepper.
– Roll into 12 large meatballs.
– Place in a frying pan and cook until browned on all sides.
– Set to one side.

To make the sauce:
– Fry off the onions and garlic in a pan for around 5 minutes or until softened.
– Add the sliced mushrooms and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
– Transfer all into a slow cooker, followed by the chopped tomatoes and meatballs.
– Add the tomato purée, oregano, ketchup and seasoning.
– Stir well and leave to cook on ‘High’ for 3 hours (check and stir every half an hour or so if you can).

Serve with linguine or spaghetti.

Please note: If you aren’t a fan of thick sauces, you can serve this straight from the slow cooker and I’m sure will find it very pleasing. For our personal taste, we found that it needed a little more reduction – I transferred it to the hob (lid off) to simmer for a further half an hour to make it look like this:

20131126-163443.jpgAlternatively, you could reduce the amount of stock used. Either way, the results were chunky, meaty balls in a very sweet, rich, smooth and enticing sauce. I will probably leave the mushrooms whole next time to add another big texture.

Give it a go instead of your usual mid week ‘Spag Bol’ option. Nice.