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Friday Night Pasta -Meatballs!

NoshwithNancy
Ambassador [Associate]
Ambassador [Associate]

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Introduction:

A couple of weeks ago, during a wicked hot spell, faced with trying to decide what to make for supper when it was just too darned hot to eat (much less cook), I found myself longing for fall. Longing for evenings that cooled off to down right chilly, where you'd happily don a sweater to run outside and do some last minute chores. Which put me in mind of spaghetti.

I'm not really sure why spaghetti came to mind, only that it did. And it occurred to me, that now the weather is starting to cool down to where I'm happy to cook, I think I'm going to make spaghetti/linguine/fettuccini for dinner every Friday night.

Ingredients for meatballsIngredients for meatballsSomething about that much beloved comfort food kicking off a weekend appeals to me. The thoughts of my kitchen smelling of garlic and tangy tomatoes simmering with plump, bitesized meatballs or chunks of sweet sausage that lend heft to the sauce and whose, fennel, sage and thyme infuse their flavors in the sauce as it simmers and add to the redolence of my kitchen, are so inviting!

Or perhaps a rich, slightly piquant Alfredo sauce made with four different kinds of cheeses and spooned over fat fettuccini noodles, so thick it stays on your fork when you dip it. Or maybe a pungent Pesto over linguine, good enough to stand alone or perhaps loaded with morsels of shrimp or chicken.

Add a hot, flakey baguette loaded with garlic and dripping with butter as well as a vividly green, crispy salad studded with cukes, red peppers, purple onions and shiny black olives topped with either a garlicky balsamic vinaigrette or a homemade creamy blue cheese dressing and it sounds like a piece of heaven!

In the north end of Boston, Wednesday might be, "Prince Spaghetti Day", but here in Vermont, it's definitely going to be the dinner of choice Friday nights!

I can't wait...

Chopped, diced, grated minced -SO worth the effort!Chopped, diced, grated minced -SO worth the effort!

 

Meatballs:

My son Wilder loves what he used to call, "Sghetti and Meatballs" when he was little, which meant that he was always very excited when I made it for supper. However, truth be told, I'd never made particularly good meatballs, rather I'd just throw stuff together and called it a day. And because neither of my parents were particularly good cooks, I had no one to guide me in that realm. In fact, as a child, if we ever had meatballs, they were either out of a can (canned spaghetti crap) or frozen ~which were better but not by much.

Then a couple of years back, I made a batch of truly God awful meatballs and said, "No more!" And so I went on a mission, to come up with a good meatball recipe. I made recipe after recipe after recipe (I -literally- made thirty recipes in all) of meatballs, to the point where my family was so sick of them, they about ran for the hills every time I made a new batch, though thankfully they're past that now!

Add all the ingredients to the meat and combine thoroughlyAdd all the ingredients to the meat and combine thoroughlyI tried using nothing but beef, a mixture of beef and sausage, bread, plain breadcrumbs, seasoned breadcrumbs, Panko breadcrumbs, no breadcrumbs at all.

I've used parmesan cheese (which was lovely), Romano cheese and a combination there of and also with no cheese.

I've made them with and without onions & garlic, I've made them with and without seasoning, with different variations and ratios.

And out of all of them, these were the ones I was happiest with:

Ingredients:

3-1/2 lbs Beef Burger

1 lb. Sausage (tube)

1 cup Romano, grated

1 cup Parsley, fresh and minced

4 cloves Garlic, fresh and minced

9 pieces White Bread, diced small or about 1/2 a garlic ciabatta loaf

1/2 cup  Milk

2 Eggs

1/2 Medium Onion, grated

2 tspns Salt

1/2 tspn Basil

1/2 tspn (scant) Oregano

1/4 tspn Thyme

2 tsp's Black Pepper, ground

*** If you don't have sausage, add about 1/2 teaspoon each of fennel seeds and sage because those are the spices in sausage which will give you something of a sausage flavor and some more burger.

Roll meatballs about 1-1/2 to 2 inchesRoll meatballs about 1-1/2 to 2 inches

Instructions:

-In a large bowl, mix the burger and sausage together.

-Cut the bread into small cubes, put it in a bowl, add the milk to the bread and let it sit.

-Either using a grater or a food processor, grate the cheese using the smaller holes

-Using a food processor, mince the onions and garlic -the reason for this is you get the favor, without having big chunks of onion and garlic in the meatballs.

-Mince the parsley into small pieces/slivers.

-Add all the ingredients to the bowl with the meat, then using your hands, work all the ingredients together until they are thoroughly incorporated.

-Now it's time to roll the meatballs. I pull approximately 2 inch pieces off and I roll them quickly in my hands so they don't get too warm and put them aside.

When I have a bunch, I put them in a pan that's got a skim of oil on the bottom, then I arrange the meatballs, shoulder to shoulder, starting from the outside in. Once that's done, I add about 1/2 cup of water and cover them and cook on a medium low heat, adding to the water if they start browning. The reason for doing it this way is the water prevents the meatballs from burning while still allowing them to cook thoroughly.

-Put a skim of oil on the bottom of a pan or pot, arrange the meatballs, then add some water, cover them and let them simmerPut a skim of oil on the bottom of a pan or pot, arrange the meatballs, then add some water, cover them and let them simmer

 

-Once they're done, go ahead and add them, along with their juices to sauce and let it simmer until the sauce is infused with a lovely meatball flavor.

-Serve over your favorite pasta with either parmesan or Romano cheese.

1 REPLY 1

Dulke
Junior Chef IV
Junior Chef IV

I love meatballs and always have some frozen to add to soups or to make a sandwich or add to pasta. I ran across a recipe by Stephanie O'Dea some years ago for making meatballs in the slow cooker. Her recipe uses turkey, apples and cheese, and is quite good, but the main thing is the technique. You make your meatballs and layer them in your slow cooker. Don't worry if you need to stack them, they won't all stick together into a giant meatball. Turn on low and cook for 3 to 4 hours. The time depends on how big your crockpot is, how full it is with meatballs. You don't need any liquid, but when they finish cooking, you will find some broth on the bottom - add to soup. MIne don't turn very brown, although if you do them in a single layer, they will brown. This is a great way to make meatballs especially in the summer, so you are not stuck hovering over your stove.