Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Week 21: Spaghetti and Meatballs

Taken from Barefoot Contessa Family Style by Ina Garten (p. 103 - 104)
Serves 6

For the meatballs:
1/2 lb ground veal
1/2 lb ground pork
1 lb ground beef
1 C fresh white bread crumbs (4 slices, crusts removed)
1/4 C seasoned dry bread crumbs
2 tsp chopped dried flat-leaf parsley
1/2 C freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 extra-large egg, beaten
Vegetable oil
Olive oil

For the sauce:
1 Tbsp good olive oil
1 C chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 C good red wine, such as Chianti
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp chopped dried flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For serving:
1 1/2 lb spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Place the ground meats, both bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, egg, and 1/4 C warm water in a bowl. Combine very lightly with a fork. Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs. You will have 14 to 16 meatballs.

Pour equal amounts of vegetable oil and olive oil into a large (12-inch) skillet to a depth of 1/4 inch. Heat the oil. Very carefully, in batches, place the meatballs in the oil and brown them well on all sides over medium-low heat, turning carefully with a spatula or fork. This should take about 10 minutes for each batch. Don't crowd the meatballs. Remove the meatballs to a plate covered with paper towels. Discard the oil but don't clean the pan.

For the sauce, heat the olive oil in the same pan. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the wine and cook on high heat, scraping up all the brown bits in the pan, until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, salt, and pepper.

Return the meatballs to the sauce, cover, and simmer on the lowest heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through. Serve hot on cooked spaghetti and pass the grated Parmesan cheese.

Remember this? I was thinking about my grandpa's kitchen and his spaghetti the entire time I was making this dinner. For nostalgic reasons, I really wanted to like it.

The truth, though? I didn't really like it. I used 1 pound of pork and 1 pound of beef because I couldn't find veal. The end result was a really pork-y tasting batch of meatballs. I didn't read the directions carefully, so I fried the meatballs until they were entirely cooked (which took forever). And, the recipe made enough meatballs for three meals but barely enough sauce for one meal.

My quest for the perfect meatballs continues.

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