Friday, September 30, 2011

That's A Spicy-a Meataballa!

Alright, I'll admit it. We were watching Disney's Lady & the Tramp.  We still have hearts, man.  Souls.  Feelings.  We don't always want to punch some smarts into people.  Sometimes we just want to watch some freakin' feel good Disney movies!  And laugh at the awful, ethnic stereotypes - "Whattsa matta for you, Joe!  I break-a your face!"  That's family entertainment!  And also a direct quote from the movie.  And then we craved meatballs!  So we made them.

We try meatballs anywhere we can... and we are disappointed, every time.  Too dry.  Too mealy.  Too big.  Too bland.  Well I'm going to go out on a limb and say that these are the best meatballs I've ever had.  They were perfect (for what we like).  I spiced the hell out of these balls, because Justin made the sauce, and he was feeling like a less-seasoned marinara than we usually make, so they balanced each other out perfectly.  The combo was killer.  And we're not big on pasta... we eat it now and then, but we don't crave it, so we just ate our Meatballs and Marinara with some rustic buttered bread.

And Fugazi... need I say more? "Waiting Room".  It's my favourite Fugazi song; I'm not alone there.  But I'm not alone there for a reason. -jen

  • 2 cans (28oz each) whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery greens
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 tablespoons minced garlic (depending on taste)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup Marsala wine
  • 1 can (14oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 shot (1.5 oz) dry Sherry
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Empty whole tomatoes into a large bowl and break them down with your hands so that they're crushed.  (Careful, they squirt!  Wear an apron or be prepared!)  Set aside.

In a stock pot, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil to medium-high heat.  Add chopped onion and celery greens and sweat until onion is translucent, 3-5 minutes.  Then add minced garlic and red pepper flakes.  Cook an additional 2 minutes.  Add fresh basil, oregano, marjoram, rosemary, bay leaves, salt and black pepper.  Cook another 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Then add Marsala and let reduce for a couple of minutes.  Add the tomato sauce and whole tomatoes that were crushed earlier.  Simmer, covered, for 1 hour, then blend with a stick/immersion blender or pour into food processor and carefully blend (it's hot!) and return to stock pot.

Simmer uncovered for an additional 1.5 hours (You can start making your meatballs here).  Ten minutes before it's done, add Sherry and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil.  (For a spicier, more seasoned version of this sauce, we just add an additional 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning and 1 teaspoon Thudium's Herb Seasoning.)

Note: All the simmering and cooking down isn't absolutely necessary if you're in a hurry, but it definitely helps the flavour of your sauce if you have the time.

  • 3 slices bread, cubed small
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1.5 pounds 15/85 ground beef (we used Angus beef, yum)
  • 1.5 pounds Italian sausage
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or Romano or Asiago)
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons dry Italian seasoning (or a variation or oregano, thyme, rosemary)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  •  1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a small bowl, soak bread and milk.  In a large bowl, combine all remaining ingredients.  Squeeze out some of the milk from the bread and crumble the soaked bread into the mixture, just mixing until combined.  Refrigerate for about an hour.  Place a baking rack over a baking sheet and roll meatballs about 2" in diameter.  Place on rack and partially bake meatballs for 12 to 15 minutes at 375 degrees F.

Using tongs, place the hot meatballs into the simmering marinara and cook for another 15 minutes or until internal temperature of meatballs reaches 140 degrees F.  (If you want to bake the meatballs in the oven until completely cooked through because you won't be cooking them in sauce, bake for a total of 20-25 minutes.)

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