What it Takes…to make meatballs.

I have a Thunderfoot living above me. I was caught off guard the first day of my discovery because I had seen two petite women moving in one day to that vacant unit. One smiled at me as she carried a pillow and serving dish up the rickety spiral staircase some well-intentioned, but ultimately stupid builder had added to the lobby. A week or two passed before I heard it…it…the sound of steel toe boots or clunky wooden wedges stomping across my ceiling. More than angry, I was just caught off guard and confused.They were so little! Someone I know received a note once from their downstairs neighbors complaining of their “loud heels”. I wish I could remember it verbatim, this letter was passiveaggressivenotes.com worthy. I would never charge back with a note. The noise is never that terrible, aside from when I can hear it in the bedroom during an attempt at napping. Really though, I am not that confrontational and I would have to endure that frightening staircase to deliver the note.

 One evening I came home to a cacophony of upstairs clodhoppers. I will give my neighbors the benefit of the doubt that there were guests and that their guests were heavy children. I will also thank them because it led me to the grocery store…I was optimistically thinking in my return they would be settled down. In a way, their annoyance at home forced me to finally cook something. I thought of meatballs because I turn to cozy food often during winter and spaghetti and meatballs struck me as a recipe you can mostly conceive while browsing aisles.  The meatball is also something I have been wanting to perfect for quite a while. After having made meatballs this last time, however, and thinking back to every other time I’ve made them I have realized that there is no perfect meatball recipe, simply variations on a classic. A few things to mention and, naturally, these are only my opinions:
  • Mixing ground meats creates flavorful meatballs. (ie. buy 1/3 ground veal, 1/3 pork, 1/3 beef rather than just beef).
  • Pecorino romano, enough said.
  • Try using panko or white bread crumbs. Avoid pre-seasoned.
  • Fresh parsley.
  • Make your own sauce. It is easier than it sounds and worth your while.
  • Do not add bread crumbs to turkey meat balls.

Meatballs and tomato sauce, sadly, are often over-complicated. The recipe I am including here may take more than 30 minutes to prepare, but it is relatively simple. I owe Thunderfoot for somehow proving a muse, the outcome being this delicious dinner and even better leftovers.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Ingredients

MEATBALLS:

1/2 pound lean ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup coarsely grated onion
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese
2 eggs, beaten
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs

SAUCE:

1/2 cup chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 (28 ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 bay leaf
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
 
1lb spaghetti
Extra grated cheese
Fresh chopped basil

To Make Meatballs:

In a large bowl, combine the ground beef and pork using your hands or a wooden spoon. Add the parsley, salt, pepper, onion, cheese, eggs and garlic. Mix well. Gently stir in breadcrumbs, just wetting breadcrumbs. Form into 12-15 meatballs on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator until sauce is ready*.

To Make Sauce:

Add olive oil (adding butter here too is not frowned upon) to a large saucepan and crank up to medium heat. Once hot, add onion and garlic and saute until onion is translucent. Stir in tomatoes with all of their juices, salt, sugar and bay leaf.  Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 90 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and pepper after 90 minutes. Add the meatballs and simmer for 30 more minutes.

Serve sauce and meatballs over spaghetti. Sprinkle with grated cheese and fresh basil.

*Recommend taking these out when the sauce has about 20 minutes left on the timer to give them time to warm up to room temp slightly before putting them into the sauce.

 

 

 

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