owl in winter

owl in winter

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Talking About Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs.


Not talking about spaghetti and meat sauce, here. Talking Meat. Balls. In Red Tomato Sauce. That's what I'm talking about. That's what makes me one happy girl.

Spaghetti and meatballs is such a fun food. Seriously. It's just fun. Everybody likes it. Kids love it. Adults find comfort in it. I can't even tell you how many times I've found comfort at the bottom of a steaming bowl of pasta, sauce and meatballs atop. Who doesn't love curling tomato-laden garlic infused linguine around a fork into a lump so big you can't even get it into your mouth without being sort of crude, and the happy sigh that follows the successful shove into the mouth; can't beat that with a stick.

Not sure why anyone would want to beat a meatball with a stick anyway.

Well, my main point with this whole diatribe is the meatball. The Meat. Ball. Yes, indeed. The ball of meat. That beautiful meaty roundness squatting atop a huge mound of pasta and beautiful marinara or, whatever you like, sauce. I'm not picky. I want you to be happy.

Oh boy. Let's make some meatballs. So, grab your apron and a knife and let's get down to it.

My first move is to chop about a half cup of onion and slap that down into some olive oil, salt and pepper and let my onions sweat and get all kinds of tender and pretty in the saute pan.

In the meantime, I get one egg from the refrigerator, I pull out my oregano, nutmeg, bread crumbs, grated parmesan cheese, my ground chuck, and my ground italian sausage. I like to use about a pound and a half ground chuck to a half pound ground italian sausage. Dump my meats in a bowl and then I start dropping the rest of my ingredients in. I don't measure anything, sorry, don't count on me for that because I don't do it, so, just watch what you're doing and if your meat mixture starts looking dry, keep in mind, we're going to add some warm water in a minute.

You might wonder about the nutmeg. Well, I used to wonder about that too, until a friend of mine said, just use it. It's the mystery ingredient that will keep people guessing. So, being sort of structured, more or less able to follow command at times (foodie stuff may be the time), I tried it and well, nutmeg seems to add a little question to the palette wherever it's used so, I like to throw it in there just so people will taste it and wonder, what's that edge? What is that anyway? It makes them curious and when they get curious, they tend to taste more, all the while trying to figure out what are we eating here anyway?

So, work all that above-mentioned mixture together with your fingers, adding salt and pepper, and more or less 1/4 cup warm water. It really doesn't matter how much liquid you use as long as your meatballs are moist but firm when you start rolling them up. So, when you're satisifed the increments are right, dump in your sauteed onions as well and then begin rolling up your meat balls. I always make them too big. I know I do this and I can't seem to stop it so, my family has become used to mega-meatballs.

Drop your meatballs into some sizzling olive oil, saute, turn, and once you are satisfied they are browned enough, drop them into your sauce, whether homemade or bottled, and let it go about 20 more minutes on a low simmer. Not a lot more than that because tomato-based sauces tend to become bitter if they're cooked too long or too hard so, in that same vein, don't turn your temperature way up for same reason. Just let it simmer. Throw some linguine, or the pasta of your choice, into a pot of boiling water, cook for 8-9 minutes, drain, coat with sauce and meatballs, grab a big loaf of crusty bread and enjoy!

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