Spaghetti and Meatballs

Meatballs and Spaghetti

In August 2002 (back in the early days of blogging), Julie Powell began an interesting project on her blog.  Frustrated with her job, her marriage, and her living arrangements in one of the “outer boroughs,” she vowed to master the art of french cooking.  That is, Powell decided to make every one of the 536 recipes contained in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year’s time.  The project’s simplicity, balanced with its sheer scope, soon captured the interests of her fellow bloggers and several media outlets (and eventually earned her a book and movie deal).

On a much smaller scale, the Barefoot Bloggers make it their goal to blog roughly twenty-four of Ina Garten’s recipes every year – or two every month, which is a lot more manageable for those members satisfied with their lives.  The blog group is essentially an online book club – though in the place of a book is a Barefoot recipe.  Every other week, the home page offers participants the chance to share their insights on one of the meals of the month.

One of the recent recipes was Ina’s version of Meatballs and Spaghetti. (I kinda cheated though and made the marinara sauce my own way).

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Family Style.

WHAT TO GRAB:
MEATBALLS
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground veal
1 cup fresh white bread crumbs (4 slices, crusts removed)
1/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup warm water
vegetable oil
olive oil

MARINARA SAUCE
1 28-ounce cans of peeled, whole tomatoes (I like San Marzano)
1 can tomato paste
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon oregano
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

SPAGHETTI
1 1/2 pounds spaghetti (I like De Cecco)
Grated parmesan cheese for serving

spaghetti montage

HOW YOU DO IT:

MEATBALLS

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the grounds meats, bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, egg, and warm water.  Combine very lightly with a fork.  Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs.  You will get about 24 meatballs.

2.  In  a large skillet, pour equal amounts of vegetable oil and olive oil to a depth of 1/4-inch.  Once the oil is hot, carefully place the meatballs in the oil and brown them well on all sides over medium-low heat, turning carefully with a rubber spoon.  You’ll have to work in batches because you don’t want to crowd the meatballs.  This should take about 10 minutes for each batch.  Once the meatballs are done, remove them to a large plate covered with paper towels.  (I find an old newspaper sandwiched between the two layers of paper towels helps absorb the oil and saves on paper towels).

MARINARA SAUCE:

3.  While the meatballs are resting, clean the skillet, and re-heat with the oil over low-medium heat.  Add the parsley and garlic and saute over low-medium heat for about 3 or 4 minutes, stirring frequently, and making sure not to let the garlic brown.  Remove from heat and let the mixture cool.

4.  Strain the tomato juice into the skillet.  Working in batches, put the whole tomatoes into the strainer, and press down on them with your hand or a wooden spoon.  I like to use a large strainer, fitted into a mixing bowl.  Juice all of the tomatoes and run your spoon under the strainer to gather what remains of the tomatoes.  Pour the tomato juice into your pan.  Discard the remaining seeds and tomato bits.

5.  Add the oregano and cook the sauce over medium heat for about 20 minutes, reducing the heat as necessary if it begins to bubble.  I also like to add about a half can of tomato paste for a thicker sauce.  I add the tomato paste about halfway through the cooking time.

FINISHING TOUCHES

6.  Salt your water for the pasta, and bring the water to a boil.  Now turn your eyes to the simmering sauce.  Return all the meatballs (or as many as you can) to the simmering sauce, cover the skillet, and simmer the mixture on low heat for 25 to30 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through.  Don’t worry about crowding at this point.

7.  Prepare the spaghetti according to the package.  After you drain the spaghetti, combine the pasta with the sauce and meatballs in the large pot, and cook together for just a few minutes over low heat.  This will help the pasta absorb the sauce.

8.  Serve warm, with my grilled garlic bread!  And for dessert, Italian Lemon Ice!

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One response to “Spaghetti and Meatballs

  1. I read Julie and Julia and enjoyed it. I can’t wait to see the movie if just for seeing Meryl Streep’s performance as Julia Child.

    I didn’t care for this recipe but that may be because I’m not a fan of meatballs. Sausage and pasta? Yes. Meatballs? Not so much so. Although right now it is the crack of dawn, I’m really hungry, and I could sit down with that plate in front of me and devour it, garlic bread, spaghetti and meatballs, wine and all!

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