Sunday, March 17, 2013

Spaghetti and Meatballs. Two Ways.

Who doesn't love spaghetti and meatballs?? It is one of those comforting meals that is even better the next day. There are a bunch of different ways to make the sauce and meatballs but I'm going to share my version. I have a few tricks up my sleeve and they add tons of flavor to this classic dish.  

Start the sauce about 2-3 hours before you want to eat because it will need time to stew.  First step is to brown some pork neck bones.  

Add some onions and garlic to caramelize.

Then add tomatoes and paste.

Next comes the spices and seasoning.  Stir it all in and let simmer over low heat for about 2 hours.  Between stirring every 20 minutes or so, I go back and forth with "lid-on" and "lid-off".  You want some of the liquid to evaporate but if you see if is getting to dry, then add a little water and throw the lid back on.  

While the sauce is cooking, start the meatballs.  These next few tips will ensure a moist meatball full of flavor!

 Soak some white bread in milk and set aside.  

Chop the garlic cloves up with some salt and your knife.  Drag your knife over the copped garlic repeatedly to create a paste.  

Run a sweet onion through the grater. The onion will be very fine and also produce some nice, flavorful juice.   Grated onion, garlic paste and the milk-soaked bread truly make the difference in these meatballs.    

Add the rest of the the ingredients, take your rings off and start mixing. The only way to do this is with your hands!  If you remember, let the meat sit out for an hour or two to bring it closer to room temperature.  It is so much easier to mix with your hands when the meat isn't ice cold.  

I love this tiny pan.  Brown up a small piece of the mixture to test the seasoning.  This gives you the chance to fix anything before you cook all of the meatballs.    

I cook mine in the oven at 415 degrees and then finish by broiling to brown them.  It's a lot easier then frying them and produces the same result.  If you ave a Silpat, use it for easy clean-up.  Foil will work as well.  

After 2 hours and while the meatballs are cooking, remove the pork bones and bay leaves.  At this point, you can leave the sauce chunky or blend it up a bit.  I was in a blending mood today.  

Finish with some freshly grated parmesan cheese and fresh chopped parsley and basil.  Turn on low and let sit.  

Meatballs are done!  They don't have to cook all the way through because you are going to throw them (along with all of the juices on the pan) into the sauce to finish cooking,  

Stir the meatballs and juices into the sauce and simmer until your pasta is ready.  Spoon sauce and meatballs over pasta and serve with fresh parmesan cheese and chopped basil. 

Homemade Marinara Sauce

4 pork neck bones 
1 sweet onion, chopped
8 garlic cloves, chopped
1 28 oz. can whole, peeled tomatoes
1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1 t. oregano
1 t. basil
1 t. rosemary
1 t. thyme
1 t. garlic powder
1/2 T. salt
6 bay leaves
Fresh cracked pepper
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese
2 T. chopped fresh basil

In large dutch oven or stock pot, heat some olive oil over medium-high heat.  Salt and pepper the pork bones then add to the hot pot to sear.  Brown on both sides.  Add onions and garlic and cook over medium heat until soft.  Add whole, diced and crushed tomatoes as well as paste.  Stir everything to combine.  Add oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, garlic powder, salt and bay leaves.  Let sauce cook over low heat for about two hours, stirring every 20 minutes.  

When sauce has cooked down, remove the pork bones and bay leaves.  At this point you can blend for a smoother sauce or leave chunky if preferred.  Finish sauce with fresh grated cheese and chopped basil. Salt and pepper to taste.  

Homemade Meatballs

1 lb ground beef (80/20)
1 lb ground pork
2 eggs
4 slices of white bread soaked in; 
1/2 c. milk
4 garlic cloves, chopped and smashed into paste
1/2 large, sweet onion, grated
1/2 c. freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/4 c. chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 T. salt
fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 415 degrees.  

In a small bow, pour milk over the white bread and set aside.  In large mixing bowl, add beef, pork, eggs, garlic paste, grated onion and juices, cheese, parsley, salt and pepper.  Once bread has soaked up the milk, add to meat mixture along with any remaining milk.  Mix with your hands until everything is combined.  

Form meatballs and place on large cookie sheet lined with Silpat or foil.  Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes.  Turn off heat and finish by broiling on high until top of meatballs is browned.  Transfer meatballs and juices to pot of sauce and cook over low heat for about 20 minutes, covered.  

Serve over pasta of choice and top with some fresh grated parm and chopped basil!  

Bite Size Spaghetti and Meatballs

In addition the full size serving, I also make these below as a dish to bring to or make for a dinner party.  Not too many people want to eat a big, messy plate of spaghetti and meatballs at a party so these bite size portions are perfect to casually snack on and get some homemade goodness in each bite!

Same as before, bake at 415 degrees then broil to brown.  These will take less time due to their smaller size.  

This is how I like to serve them.  The presentation in simple and guests can just spoon some sauce over the little meatball with pasta.  Don't you just love the little orecchiette?  It is looks like a little hat to top the mini-meatball!  

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