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Two great Italian recipes from Top Chef Theo Randall

Top Chef Theo Randall

Top Chef Theo Randall

Just like mamma used to make… only a little bit different.
Chef Theo Randall loves a classic dish, but can’t resist tweaking things a little bit to spice up midweek dinners.

Theo is working with Sainsbury’s on the Little Twists campaign, championing everyday food and inspiring the nation to spice up midweek meals using simple store cupboard ingredients.



A great way to eat meatballs – the bread in the bottom of the pan becomes crispy and chewy which works really well with the melted mozzarella.

SERVES 4 (makes 16 small meatballs)

Ingredients for the meatballs:

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 500g of lean minced beef
  • Half cup of breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp of chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 whole medium-size egg (beaten) Black pepper and sea salt

For the sauce:

  • Extra virgin olive oil, for frying
  • 1 clove of garlic (finely sliced)
  • 1 small onion (finely sliced)
  • 2 red peppers (finely sliced)
  • 75 ml of red wine
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 6 leaves of fresh basil

To serve:

  • 1 dry baguette – cut into 2cm slices
  • 1 x 100g ball of mozzarella (cut roughly into 1 cm pieces)
  • sprinkle of grated Parmesan
  • 1 bag of crisp green salad (about 200g)
Polpette di carne - Meatballs

I’ll have a dozen, thanks

1. Make the meatballs: in a large bowl add all the ingredients and mix together with your hands so everything is combined. Wash your hands, then form 16 small meatballs into walnut-size balls, rubbing your palms together in a circling motion to form tight little balls. Place them on a tray and leave to one side.

2. To make the sauce: in a frying pan heat 2 tbsp olive oil. Add the garlic, onion and red pepper. Cook gently for 10 mins, until the peppers are soft. Add the red wine and reduce by half then add the tomatoes. Reduce by half again, season to taste and add the basil. Leave to one side.

3. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. In a large oven-proof frying pan heat 1 tbsp of olive oil and start gently sealing off the meatballs so they have a little colour on the outside but are still rare in the middle. When you have sealed all of them, put them on a clean plate but keep the pan on the stove and lay the slices of dry bread in the bottom of the pan so they go slightly crispy.

4. Move the meatballs from the plate and place on top of the bread. Spoon over the tomato and pepper sauce. Scatter over the chopped mozzarella. Add a good sprinkle of grated Parmesan. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 mins.

5. Serve with a crisp green salad.



I always use penne rigate for this sauce as it has ridges (‘rigate’ in Italian) that hold the sauce really well.



  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 tbsp of finely chopped onion
  • 250g of Italian sausages
  • 20g dried porcini mushrooms (soaked in water)
  • 1 x tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp of chopped rosemary
  • 2 tbsp of double cream
  • 300g penne rigate Parmesan and black pepper to serve

1. In a large heavy-based frying pan, add the olive oil and the onion, cook for a couple of minutes then take the sausages, make a small nick in each and squeeze out the meat from the skin and add to the cooking onions. Break the sausage meat into small pieces and cook for 10 mins so the meat has a little colour.

2. Add the drained porcini mushrooms and cook for a couple of minutes. Then add tomatoes and cook for a further 10 mins or until the tomatoes have reduced by half. Add the rosemary and the double cream.

3. Cook the penne rigate for 2 minutes less than the packet says and add to the sauce with 4-5 tbsp of the water that the pasta has been cooked in. This way the pasta will absorb the flavour of the sauce and the starch from the pasta water will thicken the sauce so it holds to the penne.

4. Toss well and serve with grated Parmesan and black pepper.



Slow cooked Lamb and Beans


Chef Jenny Chandler’s favourite recipe – but if you want it for lunch you would prepare it the previous night and put it in the oven very early morning:

“I always feel that beans are misunderstood, presumed to be best only for vegetarian dishes, but in fact they soak up meat juices like nothing else,” says food writer and cookery-school tutor Jenny Chandler.

“A long-cooking meat dish is great for this, and as much as I like pink lamb, I prefer to slow-cook it when I’m entertaining, especially as it produces all this juice for the beans to soak up. At this time of year it’s nice to have some green beans, too, for colour and texture. You don’t need to make any gravy with this, so it makes an ideal one-pot, no-faff Sunday roast.”

Cooking time:7 hours 30 minutes Continue reading


Classic Pancakes



1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour (we use Gold Medal all-purpose flour)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups (295 ml) milk, whole or 2% reduced fat milk are best
1 egg
4 tablespoons butter, melted, plus more for skillet
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Prepare Pancake Batter

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and the salt in a medium bowl.
Warm milk in microwave or on top of stove until lukewarm, not hot (you should be able to keep your finger submerged for 10 seconds). Whisk milk, egg, melted butter and the vanilla extract until combined. (By warming the milk slightly, the melted butter mixes into the milk instead of turning into small lumps).

Cook Pancakes

Heat a large skillet (or use griddle) over medium heat. The pan is ready if when you splatter a little water onto the pan surface, the water dances around the pan and eventually evaporates.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, pour milk mixture into the well and use a fork to stir until you no longer see clumps of flour. It is okay if the batter has small lumps, in fact you want that – it is important not to over-mix the batter.
Lightly brush skillet with melted butter. Use a 1/4-cup measuring cup to spoon batter onto skillet. Gently spread the batter into a 4-inch circle.
When edges look dry and bubbles start to appear and pop on the top surfaces of the pancake, turn over. This takes about 2 minutes. Once flipped, cook another 1 to 2 minutes or until lightly browned and cooked in the middle.Essential-Pancake-Recipe-Step-2
Serve immediately with warm syrup, butter and/or berries.