To make these go further on a budget, I add mashed beans to the mix to pad them out. If you don’t have hordes to feed or freezer space for spares, you can leave them out, but leftover meatballs can be tossed into a stew or kept in the fridge for a few days, so don’t be afraid to make a pile of them! Take a leaf out of the books of traditional Italian meatballs, and tip some chopped tomatoes into the pan to heat through for a few minutes at the end. You could then serve this atop a pile of spaghetti, if the fancy takes you. Vegan and vegetarian readers; this recipe was first published in A Girl Called Jack in 2014. I’m working on a vegan equivalent, but in the meantime, my Not Meatballs are right here waiting for you!)
Makes approximately 24, from 35p/serving
1 x 400g tin of baked beans, 22p (23p/410g, Smartprice at Asda)
1 onion, 5p (80p/1.5kg, Farm Stores at Asda)
a pinch of chilli powder, <1p (80p/100g, Natco or KTC brand)
2 slices of bread, 4p (45p/loaf, Asda)
a handful of fresh parsley – optional
1 tbsp flour, 1p (45p/1,5kg, Smartprice at Asda)
400g turkey mince, £1.75 (£3.50/800g, Asda)
2 tbsp oil, to cook them, 3p (97p/1l, Asda)
salt and pepper, if you like
First drain and thoroughly rinse the beans to remove the majority of the tomato sauce. Folks often wonder why I do this; value range baked beans are a third of the price of their plain equivalents, and underneath the saccharine sticky orange sauce, they’re just a humble haricot bean, and can be used in a variety of recipes. They do retain a slightly orange hue, because as any parent knows, that stuff stains! But they are just fine to use here.
Pop your newly nude beans into a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 5-10 minutes, until very soft and tender. Drain them well and tip into a mixing bowl, and mash to a pulp.
Peel and very finely chop the onion, and toss into the bowl with the bean pulp. Grate in the bread, and finely chop the parsley and add that too. Spoon in the flour, and chilli, salt and pepper if using, and stir to combine. Add the mince and mix well with a wooden spoon, or if you don’t mind getting a little sticky, use your hands.
Flour or lightly oil your hands to stop the mixture from sticking to it, and then shape it into little balls. A tablespoon is enough to make a decent sized ball, and bear in mind the larger they are the longer they will take to cook through!
Fry in a frying pan in a little oil on a high-medium heat, turning occasionally to cook evenly, until cooked through, and then serve.
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