Sunday, October 18, 2015

Monday Food Post - Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs


Word to the wise, you need a lot of time for making this meal.  I always think that if you are making a recipe for the first time it also takes longer. All that being said, there are days when I am in the mood for spending extra time in the kitchen and there are days when I am not.  Fortunately this was a day to attempt something a little more adventurous.  A few days ago Gregg said he sure would like some spaghetti with meatballs and so I went on a search. I found the recipe at 'To Feed a Loon' hosted by Kris and Wesley, and you can see the original recipe here.  They have all kinds of good tips that are worth reading.  All the extra effort is well worth it by the way. We gave this meal a 10 out of 10.

Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs - serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:

1-1/2 lb. ground beef (80% is what was preferred by the host)
1/2 lb. ground veal
1/2 lb. ground pork
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup fresh Italian bread crumbs (recipe below)
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon salt
2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
4 slices of firm Italian bread, crusts removed (let them sit out for about an hour to firm up)
1 cup of milk
1 cup of freshly grated Romano cheese
Olive oil for cooking the meatballs
10 cups of fresh Marinara sauce (recipe below)

For the fresh Italian breadcrumbs:

3 slices of white Italian bread, torn into large pieces
1/4 cup of freshly grated Romano cheese
1 tablespoon of chopped garlic
1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

1 lb. of dried spaghetti
Parmesan cheese for topping

Instructions:

Making the breadcrumb mixture

Process the bread in a food processor until coarsely ground.  Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse until finely ground.

Make the meatballs:

In a large mixing bowl, using your hands, mix together the beef, veal, pork and eggs.  Gently mix, don't over do it.  Add the breadcrumbs, parsley, basil, salt, garlic and pepper.  Mix well.

Tear the bread into pieces and put in a bowl.  Add the milk and let it sit for about 8 minutes.  Press the bread with your fingers, make sure the milk is absorbed by the bread.

Add the soaked bread to the meat mixture and mix it in.  Next, add the grated cheese and 1 tablespoon of the milk (discarding the remaining milk).

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for about an hour.

Using an ice cream scoop pick up chunks of meat mixture and roll between your hands, forming into balls.  You can damp your hands with water if this helps.  Place the balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper.  Refrigerate the rolled balls for at least 10 minutes.

Heat about a teaspoon of olive oil in a good, non-stick skillet.  When the pan is hot, working in batches, add the meatballs and cook them for about 10 minutes, turning them until they are browned on all sides.  Transfer to a platter and set aside. (They don't have to be cooked all the way through at this point and can be a little pink in the center.  They will finish cooking when in the marinara sauce.)

Meanwhile, in a large pot heat the marinara over medium-high heat.

Slowly, and carefully, add the meatballs and any left-over juice to the marinara.  Lower the heat to medium and cook for at least 45 minutes.  This gives plenty of time for the meatballs to pick up that delicious flavor of the sauce.  


Now, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente, about 10 to 11 minutes.

Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, add about a cup of the sauce.

Add the cooked pasta so that the sauce already in the pan will coat the pasta.

Add more sauce, stir and transfer to a serving platter.  

Add the meatballs to the top and pass with extra sauce.

Top with grated Parmesan cheese.



Fresh Marinara  -  serves 4 to 6

Found here at the same website.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients

3-28 oz. cns of Italian whole tomatoes (suggested brand San Marzano)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup of garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Instructions:

Drain the tomatoes in a colander set in a large bowl for 5 minutes.  Reserve the tomato liquid.

In a large pot heat the olive oil over medium heat.

When the oil is hot, add the garlic and cook while stirring for about 5 minutes, or until it is golden brown.  It should turn golden but don't let it burn.

Add the basil, parsley, salt and pepper.  Cook the mixture for 30 seconds.

Add just the tomatoes (not the juice but hold onto the juice).  Increase the heat to high and cook for 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat and simmer the sauce for about 10 minutes.

Add the reserved tomato liquid.

Increase the heat to high and bring the sauce to a boil.  Boil for 12 minutes, or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally and scraping bottom to prevent burning.

Turn off the heat and let it stay for at least an hour before going on with the rest of the recipe.




What did we think of this dish?  We both agreed that it is the best spaghetti and meatballs we have ever put together.  Time consuming but very worth the extra effort.  

For spaghetti we always use Angel Hair.  We both prefer this to regular spaghetti and don't use anything else since we were introduced to it several years ago.  

I didn't use all the meat mixture for the meatballs because I knew that would be too much for the two of us, so I only measured out three meatballs for each serving.  I shaped the rest later and put them in the freezer for other meals.   

I also did not mix the spaghetti with the meatball and marinara sauce because I put sauce aside also, and did not want to freeze the meat and the sauce together.  

Another time I will make the marinara sauce the day before, just to make it easier on the cook.  It will allow the flavors of the sauce to blend even more.

Gregg was out for most of the day and when he came back he pitched in, and by then I was ready and happy for the help.  

We had a block of Parmesan Cheese and I use a microplane grater-zester to finely grate just enough to sprinkle over each dish.  The one I have is just like this one.  It is a handy little tool and in no time at all you have what you need.  Love it for zesting lemons, limes and oranges also.  

Any grits lovers out there?  A little reheated marinara sauce over a portion of freshly made grits, topped with a poached egg is now a favorite.  I had this for breakfast the next day.  

The day after that I had cooked brown rice left in the fridge and I mixed it with 1/2 cup of marinara.  After reheating it made a very satisfying lunch.

When we were eating our meal we both thought of Gregg's Mom.  We each reminded the other of times we spent with her. Bea was very much part of our meal because she made the best Spaghetti and Meatballs ever.  She had lots of years experience with this dish and each time we sat down to a plate it only seemed to get better.  Bea was very much in our thoughts while making and eating this meal.  In fact we even toasted her as I do now, so this recipe is for you Bea.

Our grateful thanks to Kris and Wesley for another delicious dish added to our repertoire.