Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Meatballs and Spaghetti

As many of you may already know, Matt is a big fan of spaghetti and meat sauce. And while this can be a good quick meal, I quickly tire of it once we've already had it a couple of times in a week. Tonight I decided to try something new with our spaghetti and ground beef (amazingly cheap on a law student budget)...Meatballs! This ended up being was shockingly different enough to make me feel like I was having a completely different meal than just spaghetti with meat sauce. And the bonus? The spaghetti-with-meat-sauce-addict approved! So here it is!

Quick note on timing: I started by boiling water for the pasta and while the water was heating I made the meatballs. I started cooking the meatballs while the pasta was cooking. The sauce only takes a few minutes so I did that last.

Adapted liberally from Smitten Kitchen...

For the meatballs:
1/2 pound ground beef
1/3 cups fresh white bread crumbs (about 5 slices, crusts removed)
1/2 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/8 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
Dash of dried minced onions
1 extra-large egg, (I used egg-whites)
Vegetable oil
Olive oil

For the sauce:

1/2 chopped yellow onion (1/2 onion)

1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic

Pinch of red pepper flakes

1/2 cup good red wine

1 (14-ounce) can pureed tomatoes*

1 (14-ounce) can chopped or diced tomatoes*

1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp. olive oil

* I am embarrassed to say I didn't have either of these and I had to use Ragu (sad) but I wanted to use what was on-hand and honestly it tasted pretty good. It would have been much better with canned tomatoes though, so I would highly recommend using them.

Make the meatballs: Place the ground meats, bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, dried onion, egg, and 3/4 cup warm water in a bowl. Combine very lightly with a fork. Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs. I had 9 meatballs (and we only ate 6 of them--they were a good size)

Pour equal amounts of vegetable oil and olive oil into a large skillet to a depth of 1/4-inch. Heat the oil. Very carefully place the meatballs in the oil and brown them well on all sides over medium-high heat, turning carefully with a spatula or a fork. This should take about 10 minutes for each batch (I only did one batch of 9 but if you had more than that I would do batches). Don’t crowd the meatballs. Remove the meatballs to a plate covered with paper towels. Discard the oil but don’t clean the pan.

Make the sauce: Heat the olive oil in the same pan. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook for 1 more minute. Add the wine and cook on high heat, scraping up all the brown bits in the pan, until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, salt, and pepper.

Place Meatballs and Sauce on top of cooked pasta and voila! All done! And yes, I'm cheesy and used the colors of the Italian flag for this post (although I had to substitute grey for white so you could read the ingredients) :-)

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