All the best dishes come from nostalgia, I find. When I dreamt up this dish, I was thinking of all the summer nights I’ve spent gossiping, eating Saltimbocca alla Romana and drinking copias amounts of Chianti with my best friends on the terrace at Ciao Bella in Bloomsbury
Saltimbocca translates literally as ‘jump in mouth’—in food terms, it’s code for veal wrapped in sage and parma ham cooked in white wine or Marsala. But no baby cows were harmed in the making of this dish. LoveRichCashPoor’s interpretation relies on pork, although you could use beef mince, if you prefer.
500g sausagemeat / pork mince
6-12 slices of parma ham (I could only afford six)
A bunch of sage leaves
2 slices of toasted bread (I used wheat and rye)
Salt and pepper
1 punnet of cherry tomatoes, each cut into quarters
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
2 small red onions, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Oil for frying
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
A pinch of sugar (opt)
Pre-heat the oven to 190C
Whizz four sage leaves and the bread in a blender. Fry half the onion and garlic until soft and golden. In a large mixing bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, sausagemeat, onions, garlic and egg and season generously. Using your hands, roll into small balls, you should be able to make around 12 from this mix. Don’t worry if the mix seems a little wetter than you are used to, this will keep the meatballs nice and moist. There’s nothing worse than a dry meatball *shudder*.
Wrap six of the meatballs with one sage leaf and a slice of parma ham (or all of them, if you’re feeling flush), then brown all of the meatballs on all sides.
Cover the bottom of a large casserole with a tin of tomatoes, then sprinkle over the remaining raw onions and garlic. Dot the meatballs around on top, then cover with cherry tomatoes and a further tin of tomatoes. Don’t worry if the tomatoes don’t completely cover the meatballs. Sprinkle over the oregano, sugar and slosh in the balsamic vinegar.
Pop the lid on the casserole, and bake in the oven for thirty minutes. Remove the lid, then bake for a further 15 minutes, until all the extra liquid has evaporated to leave a rich, goey tomato sauce and browned the top of the meatballs.