Meatballs! Marinara! Madness!
I can cross
homemade meatballs off my ‘to-cook’ list. It’s one of those things I feel is so overdone on the home cook front. I don’t think I’ve ever had a really well made, tender, meatball either…so it’s always taken a backseat to other, seemingly more exciting, dishes.
I was watching Secrets of a Top Chef with Anne Burell and her beautiful, brown, parsley-woven meatballs inspired me to give it a go. And go, I did.
The marinara was brilliant. So simple but such a wonderfully concentrated tomato flavour. I’m sure half the pot found it’s way to my gut before it even came close to touching a plate. What can I say? A good cook tastes their food frequently? Or something like that?
Though the recipe[s] contained a good amount of steps - they were all ridiculously simple and straight forward. I did them in between cleaning, packing, and walking the dog. Absent-minded cooking is truly my forte.
This is so great for a Sunday dinner or if you don’t mind busting out a few dozen pots and pans on a weeknight - it’s really nice to have as a special weeknight meal.
So… like… let’s make some meatballs and marinara?
Meatballs & Marinara
Recipe by: Anne Burrell of Secrets of a Top Chef
1 mega sized Spanish onion [or 2-3 medium ones], diced
3 cloves garlic, smashed and diced
1lb lean ground veal
1/2lb lean ground beef
1/2lb lean ground pork
1C grated parmigiano
1C fresh breadcrumbs [I used whole wheat and love the texture they added]
1/4C [+/-] fresh parsley, finely chopped. [I probably used closer to 1/2C]
In a sauce pan over medium heat, add the olive oil until heated. Toss the onions in the pan and saute until translucent [I liked mine a little browned, so if you agree - keep them on a few minutes longer until slightly browned]. Add onion and saute for 2 minutes. It should smell garlicky but there should be no colour. Remove onions/garlic from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
Add veal, pork, beef, onions/garlic, parm, bread crumbs and eggs to a big bowl and smoosh really well with your hands. If you’re afraid of handling raw meat then I suggest you get someone else to do it for you. I feel pretty confident in saying that you won’t get the same taste/texture of meatball if you wuss out and use a spoon/fork to mix it. But hey, if you want to eat icky meatballs I’ll leave that up to your discretion. Moving right along, once all ingredients are well mixed - add the water and give it another good smoosh.
Brown both sides of the meatballs [yah, I know. meatballs are spheres and they don’t have sides… but you know what I mean.] over medium-high heat until they have a nice golden brown crust. Move browned meatballs to a cookie sheet and bake in a 350 oven for 15 minutes or until cooked through.
[adapted every-so-slightly from Anne Burrell’s recipe.]
2 big gulgs of olive oil
1/2C diced pancetta
1 1/2C spanish onions, diced finely
4 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
3 large cans [28oz] of San Marzano tomatoes
Add olive oil and diced pancetta to a big sauce pot and cook over medium-high heat for about 4-5 minutes or until the pancetta has rendered off a good amount of it’s fat. Add onions and saute for 5-6 minutes. The onions should be fragrant but shouldn’t have any colour. Add garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes until you can really smell the garicky goodness. Strain the tinned tomatoes through a fine mesh sieve into the pot with a fork, potato masher, or my favourite strainer tool - a whisk! Season WELL with kosher salt. For the love of all things holy - please taste it at this point. Make sure it has enough salt. Simmer for 2-3 hours or until reduced to your liking!
I add my meatballs to the marinara and heat it all through together and serve over spagetti….but you don’t have to do that. I guess. If you want to be difficult.
The leftovers can be frozen [yawn], or, MADE INTO MEATBALL SUBS!
Throw the marinara and meatballs on a hoagie bun, top with mozzarella [I like goat cheese mozza] and put under the broiler until the cheese is bubbling and beautiful.
Love your favourite nonna,