1 ITALIAN MEATBALLS Makes about 2 dozen meatballs By Dennis W. Viau; from my Italian mother’s recipe. When it comes to spaghetti and meatballs, it’s all about the meatballs and the sauce. Make delicious meatballs and use an excellent marinara sauce and you can use any storebought dry spaghetti. To go really homemade: Make your own pasta. Recipes for Pasta From Scratch and Marinara are available on this web site. My Italian mother made meatballs the size of your fist. They were like mini-meat loaves. This recipe makes traditional, more moderately sized meatballs. Although I am using fresh pasta dough to make my spaghetti, feel free to buy the dry spaghetti sold in the grocery stores. This recipe doesn’t provide the instructions for making your own sauce. See the recipe for homemade Marinara Sauce on the web site. A good jarred sauce that you know and trust will suffice. Ingredients: 1 pound (450g) lean ground beef1 (see notes at end) 1 pound (450g) ground pork 4 large eggs (about 55g each, weighed with the shell on) 6 tablespoons dry (or fresh) Italian parsley flakes ½ cup (125g) ricotta cheese ½ cup (50g) grated Parmesan or Romano cheese 1 tablespoon garlic powder 2 tablespoons onion powder or ½ medium onion, finely chopped and sautéed until tender, or caramelize ½ teaspoon oregano flakes; dry or fresh Generous grating of fresh nutmeg, about ¼ teaspoon ½ teaspoon pepper 1 cup (60g) bread crumbs (or as needed)2 1 tablespoon salt (shape and cook a small patty to taste for salt before adding the salt) Vegetable oil for browning the meatballs Directions: Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Cook a small amount and taste for salt. Shape the meatballs with your hands using 3 to 5 ounces (85 to 142g), rounding well (they should be about 1½ inches (4cm) wide). Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet, making sure it is heated well before adding the meatballs. For even browning, there should be enough oil to come about halfway up the sides of the meatballs. (Some recipes recommend rolling the meatballs in bread crumbs before browning.) Fry until golden brown on all sides. Place browned meatballs on paper towels to drain before adding to the sauce. Cook thoroughly in sauce, about ½ hour. As an alternative, the browned meatballs can be placed in a baking pan, covered with foil, and baked at 325°F (165°C) for about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, place on paper towels to drain for a few minutes, and then add to the heated sauce. The Step By Step guide begins on the following page. 27. The Elegant Art of Trailer Park White Trash Mobile Home Cooking—copyright 2011 www.white-trash-cooking.com, all rights reserved. 20110109 STEP-BY-STEP 2 1 My mise en place. A few items to explain here: That plastic basket to the upper-left is a nylon coffee filter. I make my own ricotta cheese3. (To make your won, heat some milk in a saucepan to about 120°F (50°C) and add an acid like tartaric acid or lemon juice, a little at a time, stirring until the liquid breaks into curds and whey. Place in a strainer and allow to drain. Discard the whey.) The rectangular package in the front is caramelized onion. I buy the 10-pound bag of onions at the warehouse store and caramelize the lot. It takes about 3 hours. Then I divide them into ½-onion portions, seal in little plastic bags, and store in the freezer. The creamy round ball wrapped in plastic near the center is pasta dough. Not shown is my homemade marinara sauce. 2 Put all the meatball ingredients in a bowl and mix with your hands or a wooden spoon. Shape a little patty, about 1 inch wide, and fry in a little oil. Taste for salt. Add salt, if needed, to the mixture until you get the salt level where you like it. 27. The Elegant Art of Trailer Park White Trash Mobile Home Cooking—copyright 2011 www.white-trash-cooking.com, all rights reserved. 3 3 I prefer my meatballs to be smaller than the ones my mother made. This meatball is about 1½ inches (4cm) wide. 4 In an Italian cooking course we shaped all the meatballs first, set them on a tray, and then began browning them. It works for me. As you can see in this picture, I ended up with 29 meatballs. In that class we also rolled the meatballs in additional bread crumbs before browning. My mother never did this. 27. The Elegant Art of Trailer Park White Trash Mobile Home Cooking—copyright 2011 www.white-trash-cooking.com, all rights reserved. 5 4 I have plenty of skillets. I use two when browning the meatballs. This batch fits in the two skillets, which makes the job go quickly. I also use plenty of oil, almost enough to come halfway up the sides of the meatballs. This browns the meatballs more evenly. It also helps to prevent them from developing flat spots as they cook, which happens when you work with only a small amount of oil. 6 Remove them from the skillet when browned and place on absorbent paper to drain. 7 You can either cook the meatballs in your sauce, or you can place them in a baking pan and continue cooking in the oven. Cover the pan with foil. They’re already browned, so I set the oven to 325°F (165°C). In either case, they can cook for an additional 30 minutes, but they’re probably already cooked almost all the way through after the browning because they are rather small meatballs. When I am making a small meal for only a few people, I use both methods, as the sauce pot isn’t large enough to contain all the meatballs. Some guests prefer them baked because they have firmer, more al dente texture. 27. The Elegant Art of Trailer Park White Trash Mobile Home Cooking—copyright 2011 www.white-trash-cooking.com, all rights reserved. 8 When I can, I make my own pasta. On the web site, in the Recipe Archive, is a recipe/procedure for making your own pasta from scratch. 9 I have a spaghetti attachment for my pasta machine. It cuts and shapes the dough into long rounded strings. You can buy dry spaghetti and cook it according to package directions. The spaghetti isn’t the star here. The sauce and the meatballs get all the attention. The pasta is simply the vehicle that delivers the sauce to the mouth. However, make your own pasta too and suddenly the meal becomes something special. 27. The Elegant Art of Trailer Park White Trash Mobile Home Cooking—copyright 2011 www.white-trash-cooking.com, all rights reserved. 5 6 10 And here is a dish of spaghetti and meatballs, all homemade. Although this is a common food, not likely to impress your guests if they think you bought everything at the store, tell them you made everything from scratch and it suddenly becomes a special meal. Notes The traditional mixture is 1/3 beef, 1/3 pork, and 1/3 veal. Veal is expensive and difficult to find unless you live near a butcher shop. So I’m substituting with beef and pork. 1 2 I seem to always need 1 cup of bread crumbs whenever I make this recipe. Granted, it’s not true ricotta cheese, which is made from the whey left over from making cheese. It’s more like cottage cheese, but it works fine for this recipe. 3 27. The Elegant Art of Trailer Park White Trash Mobile Home Cooking—copyright 2011 www.white-trash-cooking.com, all rights reserved.
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