My Communal Table


Spaghetti and Meatballs
December 6, 2009, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Main Entree | Tags: , , ,

oct food 001

The first time I ever tasted really a good meat and tomato sauce, I knew it was something special. It wasn’t your typical sauce from a jar. You could taste the love and the years of tradition in one bite. I do not have one ounce of Italian blood in me. How was I going to learn how to make a good sauce?

In walks my friend, Theresa Romeo, from Salerno, Italy to teach me ragu, gravy, or sauce. It has many different names. I now understand that all it takes is knowing a few facts and you can make a beautiful sauce yourself

Now that winter has hit, so I love a heavy meat sauce. I start by perousing the meat counter for bones. Beef, veal, or pork. These could be neck bones, ribs, or tails. Any cheap cuts of meat with bones. Bones give flavor to the sauce. I bought oxtail on this day.

There is no iron clad recipe here. Theresa sorta laughed when I would ask about exact amounts. “You know, you just look and taste. That’s the right amount.” She would say. I will share how I created for this sauce, but feel free to adjust it to suit you. I do not make the same every often, because it is about what is on hand or what is in season.

Meat Sauce:
1. Heat stock pot over medium-high heat.
2. Swirl the bottom of pot with olive oil. Extra-virgin, of course.
3. Place in oxtails that have been seasoned with salt and pepper. Brown the outside a little. Brown adds flavor.
4. One whole chopped onion added
5. Couple of chopped garlic cloves added.
Note: Italians do not use garlic in copious amount like Americans do.
6. Turn down heat to low and stir.
7. Add 2 15 oz. cans of tomato puree
8. Add 1/2 bottle of red wine. Remember to use wine that you would drink.
9. Herbs and Seasoning: Basil (quite a bit), oregano (just a teaspoon or so, especially if it is dried. Creole seasoning ( this goes so well with tomato anything).
10. Simmer for a couple of hours.
11. Taste. Adjust seasonings. Take out the oxtails and cool a bit before pulling all the meat off and put the meat back in the pot. Discard bones.

Meatballs:
1. In a large bowl, 2 lbs. ground beef. 80/20 meat to fat ratio. Too lean make for a less tasty meatball. My favorite combo is 1 lb ground veal, 1 lb ground pork, but I had the ground beef and I figured it would go great with the oxtails in the sauce.
2. Finely chopped garlic, parsley,salt and pepper are added.
3. 2 eggs
4. Couple big slices of bread soaked in milk. I usually use some type of French or Italian bread for this.
5. Mix together well. I use my hands.
6. Preheat oven to 350F.
7. Form uniform shaped balls from the meat mixture and line up on a cookie sheet. No need to spend all that time trying to fry them up in a pan. The oven works just as well and a lot less mess.
8. Check them in about 17-20 minutes. It all depends on what size you made your meatballs. No wrong size here. It just depends on what you like.

Right before my guests are ready for dinner, I cook the pasta and add the meatballs to the sauce. This is a great meal to have done before your guests arrive and you enjoy your own dinner party.

I served this with some red wine, bibb lettece and pea shoots with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. I also made a loaf of crusty Italian bread in my bread machine in the morning that I was serving as well. Finally, I made sure to put aged romano with the microplane on the table, so my guests could partake in as much cheese as they would like.

There was nothing left… now that is a compliment, but I was just a little sad there were no meatball sammies the next day.

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