Monday, October 7, 2013

Meatballs from Heaven

Could anything be better than spaghetti and meatballs? 
It's fall in the 11th grade, so the book is East of Eden. One of my all-time favorite reading experiences, ever. And to teach East of Eden--especially to a class of 70% first generation students who love to read--that is really living, in my opinion. I've taught it for years and years--I know by heart the lines, the  characters, the pages with good metaphors or allusions or irony. And yet, every time I teach East of Eden, I find it as joyful and exciting and rich as the very first year. The complexity, the depth, the humanity.  It's electrifying and comforting at the same time.
And that's how my meatball recipe is, too. Years and years after perfecting the recipe, I am still sort of amazed by how fabulous these meatballs are. They're complex and deep and rich and delicious. I've never had a better meatball, and every day I cook them is a great day. 

Sauce Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil 
5 ripe tomatoes 
2 cups red wine 
7 fat cloves garlic 
2 red onions 
1 large can (22oz) tomato puree 
1 large can diced tomatoes 
1 tablespoon sea salt
3 tablespoons sugar 
dash of black pepper
dash of cayenne pepper 

How to Make the Sauce
In a large saucepan, saute the onion in the olive oil. Meanwhile, put the ripe tomatoes and the garlic cloves in a food processor and blitz them together into a smooth puree. 
When the onions are carmelized and brown, add the wine. Reduce for 15 minutes. 
Add the fresh puree of tomatoes and garlic, and the canned tomato puree and the diced tomatoes. Mix together. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to a simmer. Add the sugar, salt, and pepper. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for anywhere from an hour to all day.

Meatball Ingredients 
2 lbs ground beef
1 lb ground pork 
4 strips hickory smoked bacon, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped 
1 tablespoon dried red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons toasted fennel seeds 
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs 
2 eggs 
1 tablespoon salt 

How to Make Meatballs 
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. 
To mince bacon, either pulse it in the food processor or chop it finely with a knife. 
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Work the mixture with your (clean) hands, making sure all elements are evenly mixed. 
Roll into balls about golf-ball sized or a bit larger. Place onto a cookie sheet. 
Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. 

When the meatballs are done, place them into the sauce and submerge. Simmer the meatballs in the sauce for 20 or so minutes. 
Serve over spaghetti! Garnish with Parmesan or mozzarella (or both!) and fresh torn basil and / or parsley. 

The morning after I made these, I woke up and made us meatball subs for lunch.


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