Date Cooked: September 23, 2009
Spaghetti and Meatballs! A quintessential Italian pasta dish that I truly cannot remember the last time I had eaten it. I’ve had spaghetti and sauce before, but big delicious meatballs were never on top of the spaghetti, all covered in cheese. And I never lost my poor meatballs, when somebody sneezed. I’ll probably be humming that children’s song for the rest of the day… I wonder if I can even remember the whole thing…
Anyway, let’s talk about some massive meaty balls. That probably sounds rather bad but I mean I seriously made some meaty balls. The first step in creating what the book calls the ‘Best’ meatballs is to make a paste out of buttermilk and bread. This is called a panade for those that didn’t know, which included myself until just a few minutes ago when I looked it up. Apparently this is the secret to keeping them moist. I’ll be honest, bread soaked and mashed into buttermilk looks really gross, something like what a newborn would spit up. But I put those thoughts aside and started getting the rest of this meal together.
I started with a pound of ground meat, in this case ¾ pound of ground beef and ¼ pound of ground pork. Mixed into this I added parmesan cheese, parsley, garlic, an egg yolk and salt and pepper to season. I added the baby vomit… I mean the panade, and mixed everything until just combined to prevent the meatballs from getting too dense from over working. From this mixture I rolled out 12 large meatballs. The recipe says I should get about 14 and I don’t doubt if I had been a little more conservative I would have had that many.
I’d like to look back to when I started this blog and look at the recipe for Corn Fritters. I was terrified of cooking in oil a year ago. Since then I have gotten quite used to it and I know this sounds ridiculous but I am proud of my basic cooking techniques. I also realize I wasn’t unique and I wonder how many people today in their early thirties haven’t learned the basics for cooking.
Anyway I carefully placed the meatballs into my pan of oil. I made sure not to crowd them and as such I did them in two batches. I turned them frequently to brown them on all sides and this took some delicate work for the first few turns as my meatballs definitely were not dense. Once browned, they were set aside and the oil was removed, and then some more oil was added, this time olive oil. Some garlic was sautéed before a can of crushed tomatoes was added. This was left to simmer until it thickened up before I finally added some chopped fresh basil (from my basil plant which is still growing nicely), along with some salt and pepper to taste. I added the meatballs to the sauce to keep everything warm while the pasta finished cooking.
Simple things the book has taught me are that ample water and salt are required for cooking pasta. I’m sure lots of people have their own beliefs but I am now firmly entrenched with the books ideology. Now I must confess one teeny, tiny deviation from the book here. The recipe is for spaghetti and meatballs but I found out that I didn’t have spaghetti after coming home from shopping and I didn’t feel like running back out when I had an abundance of linguini and I figure it was close enough. Once the pasta was drained I returned it to the pot and added in several spoonfuls of the sauce, sans meatballs, and tossed to coat.
Each plate was set with pasta, topped with some meatballs and then topped with more sauce and some parmesan. Well actually my wife and sons were plated. I ended up having to cook more pasta for myself because I had once again misjudged how much pasta I needed to feed my family.
Rating: B+. This was a good and satisfying meal. The meatballs were delicious and the sauce was easy to make. Everyone enjoyed the meal including my traditionally picky eaters. In fact we had to fight over the last meatballs.
In case you were wondering what nursery rhyme was stuck in my head, it was On Top of Spaghetti.
I am a husband to a loving wife that shares my same interest for food and cooking. I am a father to two sons (and a newborn son) that have an aversion to food. I'm also a pretty bad cook... which could be their problem... but I'm working on it.
I'm attempting to cook-through 'The New Best Recipe' for two reasons. I want to educate myself on the culinary arts a little and I want to provide better and hopefully more interesting meal options for my family... oh yeah plus I find food photography real exciting so it gives me a chance to justify why I take pictures of food!