Spaghetti and Meatballs

Whew! The holidays always have a way of sweeping you up and caring you away but this year really was something else. I feel like the wave of the holidays that I have been riding is about to dump me squarely back in reality. But before it does and I get caught up in a new quarter and some very exciting happenings (more to come on that later) I want to tell you about one of my holiday break cooking adventures. I got a pasta maker for Christmas and have set about to find a great and easy pasta recipe. So far the two attempts have yielded a wonderful tasting pasta with great eating texture that was very hard to knead and  while the other pasta was much softer and pliable a step or two was skipped in the rush to the dinner table and it created a less than appetizing result. So, I’m still on the hunt for a good every-day pasta recipe.

So, I didn’t write today to tell you about failed pasta recipes but rather about a delicious meatball recipe to atop any spaghetti. Its approachable and quite satisfying. When you have a craving for classic spaghetti and meatballs this is the one to go to. Both the sauce and the meatballs themselves are very flavorful and defiantly hit the spot. Alaina and I had a great time bustling around my mother’s kitchen making these and our unsuccessful pasta recipe. Its a great recipe for a relaxing afternoon during holiday break or just a lazy weekend since they do take a bit more time then your weekday supper might allow for.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Bon Appetite January 2010

Meatballs
ounces good quality bacon (about 6 slices)
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
2 pounds ground beef
2/3 cup chopped drained roasted red peppers from jar
2/3 cup Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon minced marjoram
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (adjust to taste)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Place bacon in processor, grind to coarse paste. Transfer to large bowl. Using garlic press, squeeze in garlic. Mix in beef and all remaining ingredients. We found that is was easiest to mix with your hands. (This would be a good place to get the kids in the kitchen!) Let mixture stand 15 minutes to allow flavors to blend.

Line large baking sheet with plastic wrap. Using moistened hands roll 2 tablespoonfuls of meat into 1 1/2 inch meatballs. Place on meatballs on prepared baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least  30 minutes. This step can be done a day ahead.

Sauce
2 – 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes with juice
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
6 ounces good quality bacon (about 6 slices), cut into thin strips
1 tablespoon (or more) extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups finely chopped onions
1  teaspoons crushed red pepper (adjust to taste)
2 cups white wine
1 tablespoon minced marjoram

 
Puree tomatoes with juice and garlic in blender until smooth.
 
Cook bacon in large pot over medium heat until crisp; transfer bacon to paper towel lined plate.
 
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to bacon drippings in pot and heat over medium heat. Add some meatballs to pan and cook until brown on all sides making sure the meatballs of plenty of room to brown. Turn them carefully with small metal spatula, about 9 minutes. Returned browned meatballs to baking sheet. Add more oil to pot if needed and repeat with remaining meatballs.
 
Increase heat to medium-high. Add onions and crushed red pepper to pot. Sauté until golden, about 6 minutes. Add wine; boil until reduced by half, stirring up flavorful browned bits, about 8 minutes. Add tomato purée and marjoram. Boil until sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
 
Mix bacon into sauce. Add the meatballs and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low; cover pot and simmer until meatballs are heated through and tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper.
 
While the meatballs and sauce simmer bring a pot of water to boil on the stove and cook the spaghetti just until tender. Drain and drizzle with olive oil. Divide among bowls and top with meatballs, sauce and grated Parmesan cheese.
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