As I wrote last week, I was lucky enough to be sent a truckle of Wookey Hole Cave-Aged Cheddar to try and, although we have been gobbling it non-stop throughout the festive period and beyond, it stands undefeated. I swear it grows back overnight. So, I thought I’d use some of it to cook up something suitably troglodyte-friendly. I pondered about what cave-people would eat (probably not mature cheese, to be fair) and the basic principle I came up with was: MEAT.
So, here is a recipe for some good old winter comfort food: meatballs with an oozing cheesy middle, in a tomato sauce.
500g mince, beef or a mixture of beef and pork (or woolly mammoth and prehistoric Irish elk if you’re going all-out for authenticity)
1tsp each of rosemary and sage, finely chopped
2 handfuls of breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten
Cheddar cheese, chopped into little chunks
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 x 400g tin of cherry tomatoes
Splash of balsamic vinegar and red wine
Parsley to garnish
To make the meatballs, mix together the mince, herbs, breadcrumbs, a grating or two of nutmeg and seasoning. Add the beaten egg and combine – the best way is the get your hands in there and squidge it all up. Form the mixture into meatballs about the size of a ping-pong ball; you should end up with about 16.
Make a hole in the middle of each meatball, push a cheesy chunk inside and reseal the meatball, ensuring the outside is smooth with no sign of cheese poking through. Chill in the fridge until needed.
Meanwhile, chop the onion up and fry it in some olive oil with the crushed garlic cloves until soft. Add all of the tinned tomatoes and a splash of balsamic vinegar and red wine. Add a tinful of water and then mash the cherry tomatoes up with the back of a wooden spoon (don’t do it against the side of the pan unless you want an eyeful of exploding tomatoes). Leave to simmer for about 20 minutes.
To fry the meatballs, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and add the meatballs (you may have to do it in batches depending on the size of your pan). Brown them on all sides.
A lot of fat will probably come out of the balls and so gently transfer them to another pan, pour over the sauce and put a lid on the pan. Leave the balls to simmer for about 20 minutes until they are cooked through.
Some of the cheese will probably ooze out but if you leave them alone, it will just set around the meatballs. Serve hot with spaghetti.