Thursday, January 31, 2013

On Top of Spaghetti

I've always had a problem keeping meatballs from turning into meat cubes. How do you keep them from flattening out when you are browning them? Every recipe tells you not to pack them super tight when rolling, but then they deflate once they hit the frying pan and end up totally deformed. In my experience. 

Tossing these bad boys into the sauce without browning them first helps keep the proper spherical shape, but you may find yourself with a bit of an oil slick on top. (Good thing I didn't add any pork.) Either embrace it or skim away.

Served on toasted hoagie rolls with some extra parm and mozz would make for a great Super Bowl party meal. Or just serve classically...

On top of spaghetti,
All covered with cheese,
I lost my poor meatball,
When somebody sneezed.

It rolled off the table,
And on to the floor,
And then my poor meatball,
Rolled out of the door.

It rolled in the garden,
And under a bush,
And then my poor meatball,
Was nothing but mush.

The mush was as tasty
As tasty could be,
And then the next summer,
It grew into a tree.

The tree was all covered,
All covered with moss,
And on it grew meatballs,
And tomato sauce.

So if you eat spaghetti,
All covered with cheese,
Hold on to your meatball,
Whenever you sneeze.

Slow Cooker Meatballs and Tomato Sauce
Adapted from Food & Wine

Two (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 large basil sprig plus 2 tablespoons thinly sliced basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds ground beef chuck
3 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Using your hands, crush the tomatoes into a slow cooker and add their juices. Add the olive oil, tomato paste, basil sprig, crushed red pepper and half of the garlic. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours, until the tomato sauce is very flavorful.

2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix the ground chuck with the remaining garlic and the bread crumbs, egg, 3 tablespoons of Parmigiano-Reggiano, 1 tablespoon of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Roll the mixture into 24 meatballs, being careful not to pack them too firmly.

3. Add the meatballs to the sauce. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour longer, until no trace of pink remains in the center of the meatballs. Discard the basil sprig. Uncover and continue to cook on high for one hour more (or up to 2 hours), until the sauce has reduced. 

4. Skim the excess fat from the surface of the sauce and discard. Add 1 tablespoon of the sliced basil to the sauce and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the meatballs into bowls, or serve over pasta or in toasted rolls, sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sliced basil and serve, passing extra grated cheese at the table.

Note: The cooked meatballs can be refrigerated in the sauce for up to 2 days before serving.

1 comment:

WendyB said...

I'm actually very excited by the idea of meat cubes. Makes me think of the cute square watermelons they grew in Japan!