Thursday, November 20, 2014

Spaghetti and Meatballs

I was pretty depressed when this was Rachael's request for dinner when Tuck and Linda were coming to visit last month: spaghetti and meatballs.  Made from real meat.  I suggested lentil balls or beet balls, but no one was having it.  I was going to be touching meat and there was nothing I could do to sway them.  Rach claimed that she deserved the spaghetti and meatballs - her favorite meal - because she had just started her new job and was (and still is) feeling overwhelmed.  So hey, if I can don a pair of gloves and roll some meat into balls to cheer her up, I'll do it.

Now this is what I learned that morning.  It is seriously hard to get your house and a meal ready for a get-together by yourself.  Mark was at work, and I am not used to living in a house with less than 4 able-bodied women all bustling around the house!  I was running around like a crazy person and by the time Tuck and Linda arrived, my hair was wet and my floor was dirty.  Oh well.  I guess the food had better be good!

And, good it was.  Everyone told me that my meatballs were good.  Obviously I just ate spaghetti and eggplant parm, but Nick even whispered that my meatballs are better than Kenzie's.  Shhhhh, don't tell her that.  She's kind of known as the meatball queen.  And frankly, I'd like to let her keep that title.  While I am glad that people liked them, I was less than thrilled when I was making them.  Even the sauce kind of freaked me out, because you cook the meatballs in it.  Let's face it: I've seen Kenzie bake meatballs.  I know what comes out of them.  And so I know that's in the sauce.  Of course, my family claimed that's probably what made it taste so great, but hey, I'll stick with my eggplant.

With that said, if you want a good recipe for meatballs - or frankly anything meat-related - go to the Pioneer Woman.  She has never led me astray in the meat department.  Plus she has basset hounds.


spaghetti and meatballs
from The Pioneer Woman 
serves 8

for meatballs:
3/4 pound ground beef
3/4 pound ground pork
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup fine bread crumbs
2 whole eggs
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
splash of milk
1/2 cup olive oil

for sauce:
1 whole yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes
1 can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup red or white wine (optional; I left it out)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
freshly ground black pepper
8 whole fresh basil leaves, chiffonade

2 pounds spaghetti, cooked al dente


1) To make the meatballs, combine the meat, garlic, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, eggs, salt, pepper, parsley, and a splash of milk in a mixing bowl.  Mix together well with hands.  Roll into 25 1 1/2-inch balls and place on a  cookie sheet.  Place cookie sheet into the freezer for 5 - 10 minutes to firm up.

2) To brown the meatballs, heat olive oil in a heavy pot or large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add meatballs 8 at a time, turning to brown.  Remove and drain on a paper towel after each batch.  Set meatballs aside.

3) In the same pot, add onions and garlic and cook for a few minutes, or until translucent.  Pour in whole tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and wine if using.  Add salt, pepper, sugar, and parsley.  Stir to combine and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes.

4) Add meatballs to pot and stir in gently.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring very gently a couple of times during the simmer.

5) Just before serving, stir in basil if using.  Serve over cooked spaghetti.  Sprinkle with extra Parmesan.

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