Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Fantastic Meatballs and Tuscan Marinara

Here is a confession about myself: I don't typically do classic or traditional/homestyle dishes. It sounds silly considering how much I love to be in the kitchen behind a stove, but I've never done a pot roast with gravy before. I don't make a weekly lasagna, meatloaf seldom makes it to our plates, and you won't see me attempting fried chicken any time soon.

And part of my 2010 resolutions are to learn/commit to memory some of these classic dishes that I, maybe you, perhaps all of us, grew up on.

I need to improve my gravy- it always turns out lumpy. I'd like to do the potatoes, carrots, and roast thing. And making killer jell-O concoctions is another area of desired improvement.

You get me? I'm talking old Jell-O emerald salads. Good ol' apple and banana cream pies. Awesome sloppy Joes.

So, every week from here on out, as long as I can remember to maintain it (do you ever create goals at the new year and then forget about them by March??), I'd like to attempt one, singular classic/traditional recipe a week throughout the entire year. Of course, what I perceive as a traditional dish might be completely foreign to you, thus, my whole approach will be rather subjective and taken from a personal and selfish experience... but I'll start labeling each of them under "traditional recipes" .

Meatballs and Marinara over spaghetti was my first experiment tonight! Quite happy with the results, even from all the oil splattering the unshielded sleeves of my shirt. This recipe is rich and succulent. And nearly impossible to cook quickly if you have a toddler pulling at your pant leg. Give yourself at least 90 minutes to complete this. It's a labor of love and a worthwhile outcome. Loved it.

I adapted the recipe from a Utah-based cookbook, The Gathering of Friends, Volume II (c.2009) and I'll type out the exact recipe but in () explain what I did differently. Use the spicy pork as directed and fear not the extra fat content- makes all the difference in flavor and texture!!! YUM! Use any kind of spaghetti noodle you'd like- we put it over whole wheat "thin" style spaghetti noodles, whatever that means.


1 1/2 lbs ground beef (I used 1 lb)
1/2 lb spicy ground pork (I used 1 lb, "Bob's" zesty-hot style ground sausage)
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp fresh basil, minced (omitted this)
1 tsp garlic powder (used 1 minced garlic clove instead)
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp Italian seasonings
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, minced (I used flat-leaf parsley)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 1/2 Tbsp Worchestershire sauce

Fold all the ingredients together, using your hands (don't overwork it though). Form into 8 large balls (I formed mine into 20 medium sized balls). In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil and saute until meatballs are browned, turning often (I cooked them over medium heat until they were just barely cooked through all the way). Remove from heat, place on plate with paper towel.

Tuscan Marinara Sauce

1 29-oz can tomato sauce
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp fresh garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped (omitted this)
1/2 cup sugar (added only 1/4 cup)
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp olive oil (I omitted this)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
6 oz cream cheese (I used 3 oz of low fat cream cheese)

Once you've removed meatballs from pan, use the drippings (remove any meat debris) of oil to saute your onion and garlic (if you're pan is dried up, then go ahead and use the 2 tsp of olive oil called for). Stir continually, and add salt, pepper, oregano, and thyme. Continue to saute until onions are transparent. Fold in tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, and cream cheese, stirring so cheese melts. (The original recipe calls for a 1 cup water addition, but my sauce was thin enough, so I didn't add it).

Place meatballs in sauce and simmer for a 15 minutes or so (if your meatballs are NOT cooked all the way through, then let this mixture simmer at least 1/2 hour). Turn down heat.

Cook spaghetti noodles until al dente. Place noodles on plate and slather in sauce and meatballs. Garnish with freshly chopped basil (I used parsley instead).

Oh, and this makes enough to feed at least 6 people. Just in case.

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