Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hungry with a Chance of Meatballs

Pat and I have both been craving meatballs...spaghetti piled high with sauce and meatballs, subs stuffed with meatballs and melted provolone cheese...we considered getting meatball subs the other night, but agreed that it would be far tastier and more satisfying to make them at home (and much healthier!). After a phone call to Pat's dad (who makes amazing meatballs) we set off for the grocery store. Everything went off without a hitch, except perhaps the meat selection. Pat's dad's meatballs are made with equal parts ground beef, ground pork, and ground veal. I am not down with veal. Yes, I understand that veal is beef (Pat thought that explaining this might change my mind) ... but I also understand that veal is baby beef.  Usually it is a male calf taken from its mother at birth and kept in very restricted living spaces so it does not develop muscle (so it tastes more tender) and slaughtered after about 4 months. The thought of the whole process is really upsetting to me; I've never eaten veal before and don't think I ever will. So I told Pat, you can use veal in the meatballs, I just won't participate in making them or eating them. He decided to use two parts ground beef (1 pound 96/4 and 1 pound 93/7) to one part ground pork (1 pound 90/10). That was the right decision.

Making the sauce and meatballs:

Garlic cloves in olive oil:

Add diced onion:

Add basil, oregano, crushed bay leaves, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper:

Continue to cook and stir until fragrant and onions are translucent.

Add about 3 or 4 tablespoons of tomato paste:

Stir the paste into the onion mixture and saute for a few minutes.

Next you'll add your "Kitchen Ready" tomatoes. The McGourty family swears by Pastene.

Pat adding all 3 cans:

And stir it all together. Continue stirring for a few minutes on medium heat, then turn down to low and allow to simmer.

Allow the sauce to cook for at least 2 hours before adding the meatballs.

To prepare meatballs, mix together all ground meat, 2 eggs, and add the following to taste: crushed red pepper, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

Then add about 1 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and mix together.

As you form the meat into balls, put them into the pot of sauce to cook.

Once all meatballs are in sauce, carefully stir to cover. Cook for about 45 minutes - 1 hour, until cooked through. At this point your kitchen will smell amazing and your stomach will probably be growling!

Pat had regular spaghetti with his, and I had whole wheat.

These are so good! Nothing like homemade sauce and meatballs! I really like the crushed red pepper Pat added to these, it gives them a nice little kick.


  • 3 pounds ground meat (we used 2 pounds beef and 1 pound pork)
  • 3 (28 ounce) cans "Kitchen Ready" tomatoes
  • 3-4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, whole
  • Olive oil
  • 1 - 1 1/2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • Spices - basil, oregano, bay leaves, crushed red pepper, garlic powder

  1. In a large pot heat olive oil on medium (use just enough to coat bottom of pot - you don't want your sauce to be oily). Add the gloves of garlic and cook for a few minutes until browned. Add diced onion and cook for a few minutes, then add spices (we used basil, oregano, crushed bay leaves , crushed red pepper, salt and pepper) and continue to cook for several minutes, stirring, until onions are translucent.
  2. Add tomato paste and stir into the onions. Cook for a few minutes. Add all 3 cans of "kitchen ready" tomatoes and continue to stir until sauce starts to bubble. Reduce heat to low and let sauce simmer for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  3. To make the meatballs - in a large bowl combine ground meat, eggs, Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, and spices (we used garlic powder, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper). Mix until evenly combined, then form meatballs. We made balls that would fit in the palm of my cupped hand, but you can make whatever size you like. 
  4. Put meatballs in the sauce and cook for about 45 min - 1 hour (cook time will depend on the size of your meatballs) on low heat. To test, remove ball from sauce and cut open to ensure it is cooked through.
Day 2 of Meatball Mania - Meatball Subs!

First we cut 6 meatballs in half and heated with sauce until very hot. Then we put the meatballs and sauce into our sub rolls:

We added some sliced provolone to the top:

And baked at 275 degrees for about 5 minutes, until bread is a little bit crispy and cheese was melted.

We enjoyed our hot, cheesy, meaty amazing subs with some steamed broccoli. Wow, so good.

I also made another batch of the Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies (back by popular demand!). I feel like I've been a cookie-baking machine lately!  I made one tweak that produced different cookies. Instead of using 3/4 cup dark brown sugar and 1/4 cup Sugar In The Raw in the batter, I decided to use 1 full cup of dark brown sugar. These produced the flat cookies that Martha was talking about, but did not spread too much like many people had commented. I got several compliments that these looked  and tasted like they were from a bakery!

Pat liked these a lot, he said they were better than the first batch. I also loved these, but think I might prefer the thicker cookies to these (although these do look nicer). Its fun to experiment with different changes to see what looks and tastes better!

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