Spaghetti and Meatballs - Nov 14, 2012
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Author: Jim Tuttle – Mount Dora Historic Inn
Recipe type: Entree
Ingredients for Meatballs
3 cups of day-old Italian sandwich bread, crust removed and cut into cubes
Filtered water to soak bread in (I used whole milk instead)
1¼ pounds ground (I used ground round) beef
3 eggs, beaten
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup hand-grated quality parmesan cheese
1 bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped to yield ¼ cup—packed
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup olive oil (do not use virgin or extra-virgin olive oil for sauteing or frying)
Ingredients for Sauce:
1 lb of spaghetti (I used linguine), cooked al dente in salted water—do not add oil to the water (your sauce will slide off of your pasta); instead continuously stir your pasta for the first 2 minutes and then every minute or so thereafter, this will prevent your pasta from sticking.
2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved
1 yellow onion, diced
1 green pepper diced
1 head of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 medium carrot peeled and finely grated
¼ cup packed chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
Whole basil leaves, for garnish
⅓ cup of finely hand-grated parmesan cheese
¼ cup olive oil (not virgin or extra-virgin)
Method for meatballs:
Prep a cookie sheet with tinfoil to place the meatballs on. This is for transportation not cooking.
In a shallow bowl, soak the bread cubes in enough water (or milk) to cover.
Remove the bread cubes and squeeze by hand to remove excess moisture—don't mash them though.
In a small bowl whisk the eggs until smooth.
Add your salt, pepper and garlic to the eggs; then, allow to sit for 5 minutes to infuse—whisking occasionally.
In a large bowl, form the beef to the shape of the bowl.
Add the bread, cheese, parsley and egg mixture; then, mix by hand to "work" the bread into meat.
Moisten your hands with a little water and shape the mixture into 14 to 16 meatballs. You are looking for a meatball that is a little larger than a golf ball; but, according to Rina her father liked them the size of a tennis ball—I think that's a little too big.
In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the oil over low-medium heat for about 1 to 2 minutes.
Turn up the heat to medium and start adding the meatballs, working in batches so they have room to cook.
Cook until they are lightly golden brown on all sides, about 6 minutes per batch.
Serve warm or at room temperature
Note: Italians generally don't serve their meatballs with sauce or pasta; at least not in the same dish. However, I asked Rena to give me a recipe for sauce so I could have it with the pasta and the meatballs...I know it's not traditional; but, I'm Irish. So here we go...
Method for sauce:
In a 3-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
Add the onion, garlic and a pinch of salt—cook until soft and lightly golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes—do not burn the garlic, very bitter.
Add the thyme and carrot, and cook 5 to 7 minutes more, until the carrot is very tender.
Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often.
Lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes the sauce should be fairly thick at this point.
Adjust seasonings (salt).
Place pasta in bowls (pasta should always be served straight from the pot of salted water and drained only slightly; so, there is a little timing to this dish. Sauce can always sit a bit—just cover it; but, pasta should never wait).
Place a few meatballs over the pasta and ladle the sauce over the top.