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I'm a bit of a Josceline Dimbleby groupie. Back in the 70s, when I cooked at my mother's knee, Josceline Dimbleby published her first cookery book with Sainsbury's and in the 80s she followed it up with a book on cooking with mince. But it wasn't mince as we knew it – with gravy or perhaps in a lasagne – it was mince exotica. Mince was mixed with the likes of cumin, cinnamon, fresh coriander (virtually unheard of at the time) or chilli to lift it into a different realm.

Around the same time my brother met his wife-to-be, Clare, and, one of my favourite suppers that she used to rustle up in their cosy Clapham kitchen was these meatballs, a Josceline Dimbleby special. Anchovies in meatballs was positively groundbreaking in the 80s. They have stood the test of time. We all still make them but I can now replace my splattered recipe with the clean page in Josceline's re-issue of Marvellous Meals With Mince (Quadrille). It's a really, really useful book and as Josceline says, 'Mince should never be thought of as dull – it is an incredibly versatile ingredient.' So say all of us.

You can buy Marvellous Meals With Mince by Josceline Dimbleby (Quadrille, £9.99) at the special price of £6.99 with free postage and packing. To order, call 01256 302699, quoting reference 8XD and your credit card details. Offer ends 30 September 2013.

Beef and anchovy meatballs

Serves 4-5

These simple meatballs include milk-soaked bread, which makes them soft and juicy as it prevents any liquid from running off as the meatballs cook.


  • 75g white or brown bread with crusts removed
  • milk, for soaking
  • 400g lean beef mince
  • 50g tinned anchovy fillets, oil reserved
  • 2-3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • a handful of flat-leaf parsley or sage leaves, finely chopped, plus extra to serve
  • plain flour, for dusting
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • butter, for frying
  • 150ml soured cream


  1. Roughly tear the bread into pieces and place in a mixing bowl. Pour over enough milk to cover and mash with a fork to a paste.
  2. Stir in the mince, the oil from the anchovies and the garlic. Mix together using a wooden spoon. Finely chop the anchovy fillets and add them to the mince mixture along with the parsley, a little salt and plenty of pepper.
  3. Wet your hands to prevent the mixture from sticking and form the mince into walnut-sized balls. Place the meatballs on to a lightly floured board or flat surface and roll to lightly coat in flour.
  4. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat and fry the meatballs for about 6-8 minutes, turning them regularly, until a rich golden brown all over.
  5. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the meatballs to a warmed serving dish. Pour over the soured cream and sprinkle with a few parsley leaves to serve.


Use yogurt instead of soured cream if you prefer.


About the author

Sarah Randell
Sarah has written more than 1000 recipes for the magazine as our Food Director