Monday, October 22, 2007
Make your meatballs browner than these. They're a little underdone.
In my family, there are two kinds of spaghetti sauce - real sauce, the Grandma Redente model from Italy, and fake spaghetti. Fake spaghetti is what you make when you're lazy and you don't want people to know it. I remember when I was first married (the first time) I made an Italian Meal for my parents and inlaws (outlaws) together for dinner. Only my Mama knew for real that it was fake spaghetti.
I have a confession here -- my favorite fake spaghetti used to be from Shoney's. Now, of course, I wouldn't go there, but there was something about the meat sauce. But I don't make spaghetti with meat sauce unless someone requests it. I usually make my Fake Spaghetti.
OK, so in my family, when we want the taste of real sauce but not the work, here's how we do fake spaghetti: we make meatballs (and maybe cook some mild and hot Italian sausage), then add a jarred sauce to the drippings.
Yesterday I decided that I would need some fake spaghetti next week after surgery, so I decided to use the ground beef I had in the fridge to make meatballs. My recipe is very authentic (i.e. from my Aunt Jeannie, and from my Mom, whose parents were born in Italy). Point of contention: my uncle Sebby doesn't like onion in his meatballs. Neither does Randy. So we argue in on the Redente side on how to make the meatballs). We also argue about size. My Aunt Jeannie used to make them really big like a baseball; my Mama made them like a golf ball. I'm in the golf ball camp here.
And to eat them right -- eat the meatballs and sausage first with your salad, THEN eat a bowl of pasta with sauce.
So here is a recipe for real Italian meatballs that will make just about any jarred sauce taste great.
2 pounds 8 percent fat ground beef (these have just enough fat but not too much).
3/4 cup dried bread crumbs (I use GF but you can use any kind -- even italian flavored)
four to five cloves of garlic finely minced (VERY FINELY MINCED)
1 small onion or two large shallots, very finely minced (optional - I use onions for me, shallots if Randy is eating them)
1 T. Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb Seasoning (or italian seasoning of some kind)
1 T. Parsley, dried or freshly minced
2 t. garlic salt
1 t. pepper
1/2 c.parmesan cheese grated (I don't care if you use green can stuff).
Mix this up -- don't mix it too much, but it should hold together when you roll into balls. If it is a little loose, add more crumbs or cheese til it is stable.
This should make about 18 golf ball sized meatballs. (I always have to eat two or three). Brown a small amount of the meat in the hot oil to check the seasoning. Add more garlic salt or pepper if you think it needs it (but I don't think it will). Brown the meatballs in olive oil in a pan of your choice. If you're going to add sauce to the pan, make it a high-sided pan. When the meatballs are cooked almost through (about medium) drain off fat and return to pan. Add the sauce. Stir well and simmer. If you're making Italian Sausage too, just buy them, cut them into links, prick them with a fork, and cook them 2/3 of the way through in hot water in a frying pan. Drain well and add to sauce. If you skip this step, you can get a similar taste in your sauce with 1 t. dried fennel seeds.
You can also put the cooked meatballs in the Crockpot, add sauce, and simmer away all day while you do something else, like hike the Adirondacks.
This is a little more work than just browning the beef and adding sauce, but it is so, so worth it. I can make this up in about a half hour total. And it makes great leftovers for pizza toppings and sandwiches. Serve on the pasta type of your pleasure. My Dad prefers penne, I like thin GF spaghetti, and sometimes I just like it on bread with more cheese.
Much love, and I hope you enjoy half of a family secret recipe. Maybe someday we'll make some sauce.