Friday, December 19, 2008

belle's recipe for spaghetti and meatballs

Mine is a variation of this recipe, altered in that I have fiddled with the proportions of the types of meat in the meatballs and reduced the amount of ground beef (which I consider to be the driest) by 1/2 lb, made a totally different chunky sauce so that you can oversauce your pasta, etc. I like my recipe better, because my meatballs are totally juicy, tender, and fatty-tasting, and they're smaller and more manageable with a good outside-inside balance of crust and tenderness and flavor. I feel like I'm setting up this post to be an parody of Schweddy balls, but seriously, try my recipe.

For the meatballs:
1/2 pound ground veal
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground beef
2/3 cups fresh white bread crumbs (about 3 slices, crusts removed, or just buy them)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
1 extra-large egg, beaten
Vegetable oil
Olive oil

For the sauce:
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 small onion)
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 good pinches of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup good red wine
1 (8-ounce) can pureed tomatoes
1 (28-ounce) can chopped or diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

5-6 roma tomatoes, chopped

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon sugar (seriously!)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For serving:
1 pound spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
Freshly grated Parmesan

Make the meatballs:

Place the ground meats, bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, egg, and 1/2 cup warm water in a bowl. Combine. Wet hands with water, but not so much that they're dripping. Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into 1-1.5-inch meatballs. I make 22 meatballs each time. It is a mystery, but that is my number.

Pour equal amounts of vegetable oil and olive oil into a large (12-inch) skillet to a depth of 1/4-inch. Heat the oil. Very carefully, in batches, place the meatballs in the oil and brown them well on all sides over medium-low heat, turning carefully with a pair of tongs. You will so totally get splattered with hot oil. It hurts a lot. Remove the meatballs to a plate covered with paper towels. Discard the oil but don’t clean the pan.

Make the sauce:

Heat the olive oil in the same pan. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook for 1 more minute. Add the tomato paste, stir. Add the wine and cook on high heat, scraping up all the brown bits in the pan, until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Stir in the chopped roma tomatoes, and can of diced tomatoes, can of tomato puree, salt, pepper, and sugar. Lower to a simmer for 1 hour. Chill out. If you have an immersion blender and want to make the sauce smooth, blend to make a proper marinara. If you don't, like me, mash up the chunks of tomatoes with the back of the spoon and call it "chunky tomato sauce". Could you use a jar of marinara? Yes, but why. This tastes so much better, and coats the pasta so much better, and is so the opposite of Spaghetti-Os.

Return the meatballs to the sauce, cover, and simmer on the lowest heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through. Add parsley at the end, stir. Serves 4-6. We are only two people, so we each eat about 1/4 lb of pasta and I pack him a lunch and I still have two more servings worth for the next night. Except that I ate it for lunch and dinner today too, and so now I have to make pizza for dinner tomorrow. In theory though, this makes a lot of food for two people (or a gluttonous Belle) for under $12.