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Meatballs  gaz smith edit
Harry Weir, assisted by Brian Clarke

Beef and lamb meatballs with homemade tagliatelle

A delicious Nonna-approved dish from Gaz Smith of Michael's in Mount Merrion.

Serving: 4
Time: 2 hours +
Difficulty: Medium


  • 250g minced beef
  • 180g minced lamb
  • 3 eggs
  • 100ml milk
  • 200g dried breadcrumbs
  • 250g Parmesan, grated
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 20g powdered garlic
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the tomato sauce:

  • Vegetable oil, plus a little extra to cook the meatballs
  • 2 onions, chopped quite finely
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • Glass red wine
  • 800g tin good quality chopped tomatoes
  • 3 dessert spoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, or 20g fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ glass water
  • Handful fresh basil leaves, plus extra to garnish

For the pasta:

  • 500g type 00 flour
  • 5 large eggs, beaten
  • Pinch salt

To serve:

  • 80g aged Parmesan shavings, to garnish


  1. To make the pasta, pour the flour into a pile on a dry surface and make a well in the middle. Add the beaten eggs and gradually draw the eggs into the flour until you have a springy ball of dough. Alternatively, bung it all into the food processer and blend it until a ball of dough forms.
  2. Now, it’s time to knead the dough by bashing and stretching it for around ten minutes. You can stop kneading when your dough feels silky and springy, and your arms are about to fall off!
  3. Wrap the dough in clingfilm very tightly (any exposed pieces will dry out, resulting in lumpy pasta). When wrapped, pop the dough into the fridge to rest for at least an hour.
  4. To make the meatballs, simply combine the ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly until everything is mixed evenly.
  5. Heat a large frying pan with a little vegetable oil. While the oil is heating, shape your meatballs. When shaped, fry in the oil, shaking the pan to rotate the balls every so often. You only need to brown them rather than cook them. They will finish cooking in the tomato sauce.
  6. In another pan, make your sauce. Heat a dash of vegetable oil and sweat the onions until they are golden brown. Be patient, this adds an extra layer of flavor to your sauce. When ready, add the sliced garlic, sweat for a further minute, then add the red wine and heat until reduced by half.
  7. When the red wine is reduced, add the tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, bay leaf and water. Very, very gently and slowly, simmer the sauce down over the course of 60 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. After the dough has rested, continue making the pasta. Divide the dough into four pieces and feed it through your pasta machine two times, dropping down a thickness notch each time. Keep repeating this until you reach the number two setting. Your pasta will be in long wide ribbons. Now, you can either feed it through the tagliatelle cutter on the machine or slice by hand with a sharp knife. 
  9. After about 60 minutes, you can put your meatballs into the sauce and continue simmering for a further 20 minutes. At the very end, simply throw in your chopped basil leaves. 
  10. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water for three to three and a half minutes then to serve, pour cooked tagliatelle pasta into a big bowl and place the meatballs on top with more ragù spooned on the meatballs. Garnish with shavings of a good Parmesan cheese and a few basil leaves. In the traditional way, let everyone help themselves.

Recipe by Gaz Smith of Michael's and Little Mike's

Photography by Harry Weir, assisted by Brian Clarke.

Click here for more pasta recipes


  • We serve our meatballs with homemade tagliatelle pasta, which is handy to make as most pasta machines have an attachment to cut the tagliatelle. If you don’t have that attachment you can slice them with a sharp knife or cut into wide ribbons and serve it as pappardelle.
  • Kneading the pasta dough well is very important so that your cooked pasta will stand tall and won’t be soft and flabby.
  • This entire recipe was given to me by a ‘Nonna’ (an Italian granny) in a Trieste trattoria a few years ago when my five year old daughter ate a huge adults’ portion of her meatballs. The Nonna cook was beaming with pride as she pinched Gabi’s cheeks and gave up her recipe with the barest hint of persuasion – I’ve followed it to the gram ever since. The trick is to ask for the mince to be very fine, and around 15% fat.
  • Use wet hands to shape your meatballs. This helps to keep them smooth which means a juicier and better-looking meatball.