Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Spicy Meatballs and Marinara

Is there something in male DNA that predisposes husbands to a love of comfort foods like meatballs? Personally, I've always been a little bit eh about meatballs. I mean, I think they are just fine, but I wouldn't go out of my way to eat them. Until Hugh came into my life, actually, until Hugh turned twenty-four, I had never made meatballs. But that was his birthday dinner request in 2007, and you know how I feel about birthdays, so meatball subs were made and eaten. Hugh seemed to enjoy them and that was that.

I made them a few times since then, but I felt like they were never anything to write home about. Additionally, they are a hassle to make because you're standing over a pan of hot oil, cooking five meatballs at a time for one million hours. And you are hot. And your guests are hungry. And you have eighty-five thousand raw meatballs left to cook. And you don't even freaking like meatballs!

But then Hugh gave me this cookbook. Oh, Ina. You just never, ever disappoint me. These meatballs, well, you don't want to write home about them either, because you don't want anyone else showing up for dinner. Because then you'd have to share your meatballs. Hugh may or may not have come in the kitchen to find me eating a meatball (or three) with no utensils while I "waited for the marinara to finish cooking."

Oh yeah, I also made a delicious marinara to accompany said meatballs of glory. Mostly because it's easy and I'm loathe to pay four dollars for a jar of sauce that is loaded with sugar and doesn't taste very good.

Now go make this delicious perfection:

Spicy Marinara
A White Hot Original
makes approximately 3 1/2 cups, depending on simmering time

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh-cracked black pepper
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, depending on your spice tolerance
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
1/4 cup red wine
1 teaspoon sugar

Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion, saute 5 minutes or until slightly soft.

Add garlic, saute 2 minutes. Add black pepper, red pepper flakes, and salt, saute 30 seconds.

Add tomatoes, thoroughly breaking up with your hands as you drop them in. Stir in red wine and sugar. Bring to boil. Immediately reduce to simmer.

Simmer at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste for seasoning; adjust if necessary.

Note: You can leave this on the stove for longer, but I would turn the heat down to low so the sauce doesn't reduce too much. Also, it freezes beautifully.

Spicy Meatballs
Slightly adapted from Ina Garten's How Easy Is That?

I think the key to these meatballs is the prosciutto, so don't leave it out!

serves 4, generously

2 cups white bread cubes, crusts removed
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/3lbs ground sirloin (i.e. 90/10 ground beef)
1/3lb Italian sausage (turkey or pork), casings removed
2 oz very thinly sliced prosciutto (approximately 4 slices), finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon fresh-cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

Process bread in a food processor to medium crumbs. Transfer crumbs to small bowl and add milk. Let sit for at least 5 minutes.

Add bread mixture, beef, sausage, prosciutto, red pepper flakes, black pepper, salt, Parmesan, and parsley to a large bowl. Gently mix by hand until combined. Add egg and olive oil and lightly mix by hand until incorporated.

Using hands, shape mixture into 2-inch meatballs. Place meatballs on prepared sheet pans.

Bake meatballs for 35 - 40 minutes, or until completely cooked through. Rotate sheet pans halfway through cooking time.

When meatballs are cooked through, remove from sheet pan and add to marinara sauce. Stir very gently to combine. Let simmer for 5 minutes.

Meatballs and marinara can be served over spaghetti or on sandwiches (toast french bread, sprinkle with grated mozzarella, broil 3 minutes or until bubbly and golden, top with meatballs). We prefer the sandwich preparation around these parts. Either way, top with additional Parmesan cheese and parsley.

Post Script: Oh, and Hugh really loves these meatballs too. In fact, we may or may not have strongly debated over who got to eat the leftovers. Lucky for me, Hugh was a lousy hunter the day after we made these, so those meatballs were mine all mine baby. I may or may not have danced around the kitchen, taunting him with the deliciousness of my lunch.

1 comment:

  1. I would say these could only be better with italian sausage from Mazzaro's, here in St Pete. Maybe you should come and make them for us? Hmmmmm , I mean Gianna would like to enjoy some of these said meatballs, too!