Thursday, February 12, 2009

Real Spaghetti and Meatballs

When I saw that this month's Barefoot Challenges included meatballs, I was very pleased. I knew that the family would love it, and it gave me the chance for a bit of experimentation with a new recipe. I have been making spaghetti meatballs for years with the same recipe from Diane Seed's Top 100 Pasta Sauces. So how would Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa stack up against Diane Seed when the battle ground was meatballs?

The answer was an easy win to the Barefoot Contessa. The differences between the two recipes are significant. Ina uses three types of mince in hers (beef, pork and veal) where Diane uses one (beef). Ina does not add garlic to her mince mixture, it is only in the sauce, where Diane has garlic in the meatballs but not in the sauce. Ina uses one egg, plus water which makes hers moister than Diane's using two eggs and no water. Plus you mix Ina's with a fork (instead of in a food processor), and there is no rolling the balls in flour before browning. All in all, I was sold on this recipe and so were the family. The meatballs were definitely moister and tastier. Even better, the single recipe made enough for us for two dinners (one is sitting in the freezer). We got almost twice as many meatballs as Ina did out of her ingredients, and they were still the size of golf balls. I didn't want to increase them to the size of tennis balls just to get Ina's suggested 14-16.

And if you have never made meatballs, do! As Peter Clemenza said in "The Godfather", "You never know, you might have to cook for 20 guys some day..."

Thanks so much to Rebecca at Ezra Pound Cake for the fantastic choice. If you feel the urge to expand your cooking repertoire, consider joining us at Barefoot Bloggers, as we work our way through fortnightly challenges from the repertoire of the Barefoot Contessa.

Real Meatballs and Spaghetti from Barefoot Contessa Family Style by Ina Garten

For the meatballs:
250g ground veal
250g ground pork (NB I used the pork veal mixture from the supermarket)
500g ground beef
1 cup fresh white bread crumbs (4 slices, crusts removed)
1/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 extra-large egg, beaten
Vegetable oil
Olive oil

For the sauce:
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 cup good red wine
2 x 400g cans crushed tomatoes, or plum tomatoes in puree, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For serving
1 1/2 pounds spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
Freshly grated Parmesan

Place the ground meats, both bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, egg, and 3/4 cup warm water in a bowl. Combine very lightly with a fork. Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs. You will have 14 to 16 meatballs.

Pour equal amounts of vegetable oil and olive oil into a large (12-inch) skillet to a depth of 1/4-inch. Heat the oil. Very carefully, in batches, place the meatballs in the oil and brown them well on all sides over medium-low heat, turning carefully with a spatula or a fork. This should take about 10 minutes for each batch. Don't crowd the meatballs. Remove the meatballs to a plate covered with paper towels. Discard the oil but don't clean the pan.

For the sauce, heat the olive oil in the same pan. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the wine and cook on high heat, scraping up all the brown bits in the pan, until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, salt, and pepper.

Return the meatballs to the sauce, cover, and simmer on the lowest heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through. Serve hot on cooked spaghetti and pass the grated Parmesan.


Candy Girl said...

Hi Suzie! Your spaghetti and meatballs look fantastic!

Trish said...

Hello! I followed you from your comment on my blog.

I LOVE Ina Garten and I LOVE spaghetti and meatballs. The recipe I always follow is quite similar, but I add about a tablespoon of finely grated lemon rind to the meatballs.... YUM.

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Anonymous said...

I love the comparison between the two! Glad everyone loved them. Try the sauce next time with white wine... I don't know why- but it tastes so much better.


Penny said...

Hi Suzie. Loved finding your blog thru joining Barefoot Bloggers. Enjoyed making this. The meatballs were great, but I had a problem with the sauce.

Todd M said...

Yours look really good - and the leftover meatballs were great in a sandwich.

My Carolina Kitchen said...

I love Ina and have all of her books. Sounds like everyone is having a lot of fun with the Barefoot Bloggers.

Summer said...

they look great! I ended up with more than the recipe said too.

Tonya @ What's On My Plate said...

Glad you enjoyed this! Thanks for stopping by!

Leslie said...

Mmm, yours look delish! These were a hit here.

spike. said...

I was thinking the godfather when I was making this too! Looks great, glad the family liked it

Cathy said...

I haven't made these yet because I had just made Mark Bittman's meatballs (very poor planning) and wanted to give the family a meatball break for a week or so before making some more. But I have seen some FANTASTIC reviews of these, and I can't wait to make them soon. Yours look perfect. I think golf-ball size is just right for meatballs!

Anonymous said...

We enjoyed these, too. I only made half the meat into meatballs and froze the rest for later.