Thursday, May 22, 2014

Spaghetti and Meatballs

 Spaghetti and Meatballs = Comfort Food.  When I came to the United States as a preschooler, I was introduced to this dish for the first time.  I fell in love with it then and have never lost my love for it.  Now I'm enjoying watching my kid's love for it grow.   It doesn't matter how bad the day is.... I can't feel too sad if you put this plate of food in front of me.   Of course I have changed my traditional spaghetti and meatballs for a more healthier option.  I made chicken and pork meatballs (you can also swap it out for turkey) and changed the traditional semolina pasta for whole grain pasta.  My kids can't tell the difference.  All they see are those gorgeous meatballs and pasta covered in tomato sauce.  When "spazketti" is for dinner....they can't run to the table fast enough.

 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 dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
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 with 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.

 In the oil left in the pan from frying the meatballs add the ingredients for the sauce.
The Sauce
1 medium onion diced (red or white onion)
4-5 cloves of garlic grated or minced well
red chili flakes to taste
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
2 (28oz) cans of crushed tomatoes
salt and black pepper to taste
sugar to taste
1 cup of chicken broth
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
1-2 Tbs butter or margarine
 Now add the browned meatballs to the sauce.  Note:  Add the drippings from the dish that the meatballs sat in as well.... that's all great flavor.  Now cook sauce for 20-30 minutes.  Taste for seasoning.   Then just before serving add 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese to the sauce.
The Pasta
Cook the pasta until al dente (follow package instructions). I used 100% whole grain pasta.   Then drain add 1/2 the sauce to the pasta and 1 heaping Tbs of butter.  Toss together.  Serve meatballs and sauce on top of pasta at the table.  Garnish with fresh basil leaves.

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