Friday, December 17, 2010

Spaghetti & Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs...a classic.  Really there's not much more to say, except that in this version, the meatballs aren't fried or even baked, they're cooked right in the sauce.  I like this method because it's faster, easier and helps flavor the sauce.  Plus the meatballs stay round(ish).  This recipe yields a lot by design (I like having extra in my freezer).  If you want to make a vegetarian version, just substitute mashed parsnip for the ground beef, you can hardly tell the difference.  Please tell me you know I'm messing with you.
Yield: 18 large meatballs (+ about 3 ½ quarts sauce)

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
10 fresh basil leaves
2 dried bay leaves

4 large eggs
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs (or 1/2 cup panko, soaked in 1/4 cup milk for 5 minutes)
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese 
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 pounds ground beef

1 lb. dried spaghetti (or pasta of choice)
grated parmesan for serving

1.      In a large, wide pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes.
2.      Add celery and carrot and season with salt and pepper.  Sauté until all the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.
3.      Add tomatoes, basil, and bay leaves and reduce the heat to low.  Cover the pot and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour or until thick.
4.      Remove bay leaves and puree the sauce with an immersion blender until smooth.  Taste and add salt if needed.

Prep the meatballs while the sauce is cooking:
1.      Stir eggs, breadcrumbs, parmesan, olive oil, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper in large bowl to blend. Add ground beef and mix thoroughly. Form mixture into 18, 2-inch meatballs. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 10 minutes.
2.      Heat the tomato sauce to a simmer (if not already simmering).  Add meatballs and simmer
for another 25 minutes (or until meatballs are cooked through).

Cook spaghetti in salted, boiling water until al dente.  Drain and toss with a little sauce (to prevent sticking).  Serve pasta topped with sauce, meatballs and grated cheese. 

sauce recipe only: adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

sauce bubbling nicely
raw meatballs (just before they were dunked)
with cheese on top...let it snow!


Anonymous said...

This is totally the secret to great meatballs (and great sauce) in my opinion. Everything stays moist and flavorful.

Of course, you've stolen my thunder because I was planning to post a tomato sauce recipe on my blog on Monday! Dueling banjos, anyone?

Susan said...

Ouch, sorry about that. I first heard the banjos when you posted the broccoli soup...luckily we don't take our blogs too seriously! I have a feeling dueling Christmas cookies might be next (I'll trade you).

Anonymous said...

I have little doubt your Christmas cookies will trounce mine so I'll take your cookies any day of the week. I'm actually making mostly candies this year instead of cookies and swiping your peppermint bark recipe!

I think the real issue is that neither of us take ourselves too seriously so the dueling banjos will just make the whole thing more fun!

BTW, we ate your falafel for dinner an it was superb. Really great. Then we ate the baklava for dessert. Adam's comment was "my God this is insane, who IS this woman?"

Susan said...

My Christmas cookies would never trounce! (they're all about peace and love).

Randi said...

I always avoided meatballs because I thought you had to fry them first and I'm lazy.

Susan said...

Now even the lazy can enjoy homemade meatballs.

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