Monday, October 24, 2011

Man-made meatballs

Meatballs should taste like meat. Or so says Esquire magazine, anyway. And that said, their Eat Like a Man recipe this month does not disappoint. Hubby was reading the latest issue in bed the other night, and it was all he could do to not get up and start cooking right that second. (Which I would have been ok with. Spaghetti and meatballs are always welcome right now.)

The two days we ended up waiting were well worth it, however. It was absolutely fantastic—totally restaurant quality, totally time consuming, and totally appreciated. All I had to do was run to the store for him, eat and do some dishes (and not even that many! He cleaned as he went! He's learning!!). Well, and not think about how many calories are in these suckers. Bacon and olive oil are kind of in excess here...

There were some changes, of course...veal is not allowed in our house (yep, I pull that card), so that went out the window. We also wanted to use pancetta, but it was $6 per 3oz, and bacon was $6 for 16oz. So, yeah. Oh, and we did half in the toaster oven and half on the stovetop...the stovetop set ended up having a thicker sauce, but that seemed to be the only real difference.

So here you go. The man's awesome, total fat-kid, meat-heavy meatballs and sauce. It makes a ton. Make it on a night you have a handful of hungry dudes to feed.

Basic Tomato Sauce (also from Esquire)
4 28oz cans good quality whole tomatoes
6-8 garlic cloves, crushed
olive oil
a few basil leaves

Pour tomatoes and their juice in a huge bowl and squish/crush tomatoes by hand (or use a potato masher, if that's more your bag)

Heat about a half cup olive oil in large-enough sauce pan, and add garlic. Let cook until they sizzle but don't brown, a couple of minutes. Add about a third of the tomatoes at a time, letting them come to a simmer before adding more.

Lower heat, tear some basil leaves (4 or 5 big ones), and throw them in. Cook at a low simmer for about 45 minutes.

1 lb ground beef (85 percent lean/15 percent fat)
1 lb ground pork (as lean as you can get)
About 2/3 a package of thick-sliced smoky bacon, finely minced
2 whole eggs
1/3 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
8 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried rosemary

Combine above ingredients and mix well with your hands. Just do it.

1/3 cup bread crumbs (we used seasoned)
1/4 cup 1% milk
1 heaping tsp coarse sea salt
1.5 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Slowly add milk to bread crumbs, stirring until the mixture has the consistency of wet sand. Add S&P, and add to the meat mixture, mixing well. It'll be super sticky at this point-it's ok. Refrigerate the meat mixture for about 30 minutes.

canola oil for browning
your tomato sauce (above), kept warm over low heat
finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Shape meatballs into roughly 2 inch balls, shaping with your hands. In a large skillet, heat about a quarter-inch canola oil until very hot. Working in batches, brown all sides of each meatball ( a couple minutes a 'side').

As they finish, transfer browned meatballs to a deep, ovenproof dish. Cover meatballs with tomato sauce. (Totally submerged, if possible) Bake until done, an hour or more. They should feel firm to the touch.

If you're going the stove top route, place browned meatballs in large skillet or dutch oven—two if necessary, you don't want to overcrowd them—and cover with the sauce. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat, and cook, partially covered, about an hour.

Serve alone or over a bit of pasta.

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