Monday, May 16, 2011

Spaghetti and Meatballs

When I was a kid there was nothing more comforting than a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs.  I still love to sit in front of a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs and just dive in.  Now I get to see my kids' eyes light up at the mention of having spaghetti and meatballs for dinner.  This recipe is an ode to my childhood comfort food.

 The Meatballs
To make the meatballs you will need:
2lbs of lean ground meat.  I used chicken and pork.
1 egg
1 small handful of minced parsley
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp granulated garlic (or 2-3 cloves grated)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
3 slices of bread soaked in about 1/4 cup of milk*
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix well and form into meatballs.  Do not overwork the meatballs when you shape them so they stay tender.

I made golf size meatballs.  I like the dramatic size of these meatballs and they don't get lost in the sauce.  You can make them any size you like.

*Note:  you can use bread crumbs if you like to bind the meatballs.  But I prefer soaking a few slices of bread in milk until they soften and you can "mush" with your fingers.  This gives the meatball a very tender texture.

Fry the meatballs on med-high heat in about 2 Tbs of oil.  You may have to do it in two batches.  After the meatballs brown on all sides transfer to a plate.  You don't have to cook the meatballs fully, they will finish cooking in the sauce.

The Sauce

In the oil left in the pan fry:
One medium onion diced
4-5 cloves of garlic grated or minced well
2 jalapeno peppers seeded and diced
8oz of mushrooms diced (optional)

season with some salt and pepper

Once the onions become tender, add one 6oz can of tomato paste.  Saute for about 2 minutes.

Add the following seasoning:
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp of red chili flakes (or to taste)
1-2 tsp of brown sugar (to taste)

Add a large can (28-32oz) crushed or diced tomatoes, 2 cups of chicken broth and season with salt again.  

Note:  You can decide on the texture of your sauce at this point.  If you want it "chunky" you can leave it like it is right now.  I wanted my sauce a little more smooth so I used a hand blender and I pulverized the sauce a bit.

Add the meatballs (and the juice from the plate) into the sauce at this point and lower the stove to medium so the sauce can simmer.  Simmer for 30-40 minutes and stir occasionally.

5 minutes before the sauce is finished add a small handful of chopped fresh parsley and fresh basil to the sauce.

The sauce is done at this point.  Taste for seasoning and adjust to your palate.

Cook a box of  favorite spaghetti pasta to al dente.  Drain and add 1 Tbs of butter to the pasta. 

I added some sauce to the pasta and served more sauce and the meatballs on top.

Serves 6-8 people.  Enjoy.  Garnish with more basil, parsley and Parmesan cheese.

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