Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Spaghetti & Meatballs

Fall is upon us and LaraThalice is back! It has been two years and one day since my last post, and for good reason! Err, well, I think so. You are probably like, "Enough excuses, I'm hungry!" But, this is my excuse: we bought our first house! So, between starting the new job and the new house, there has been little time to keep up with the blog. But oh, how I have missed it, and you, more importantly! *Insert tone of bribery here.*

We are just now reaching a point where new routines are falling into place, and time to fit in blogging again is popping up here and there. I am hoping to sneak in at least two posts a month. What better way to start it all back up then by having something ready for you all on the first day of fall!

Although summer is my favorite season, cooking in the fall is one of my favorite things. I think it's because the house smells so good and it's always so cozy. And what a great way to ease into fall and the dishes it brings than by using your garden harvest!  If you froze that lovely basil or canned all of those tomatoes that got out of hand in the summer months, this recipe is for you!

I first discovered this recipe while flipping through one of my Bon Appétits, and realized I did not have a go-to spaghetti and meatball recipe. Doesn't every household have one of those? The pictures and ingredient-list looked so inviting, I think I whipped it up that night...actually, probably not, but does thinking about it in my head count?

Also, as I edit my pictures for this post and review my notes, I love how I was so enthusiastic about using your garden bounties and then I only used my garden basil...Look, this is my first post back! I was overwhelmed- photos were taking three times as long to shoot because I have a new camera and have apparently forgotten how hard it is to cook messy things and take photos (try rolling out half the meatballs and then taking a photo...oh the joy). It was also a race against the sun, in a new kitchen with new window light angles.  And then there is always the final plated dish photo anxiety. I don't know if this is just a me-issue, or if other fellow food bloggers are faced with this battle, as well, but I think taking prep photos is a breeze in comparison. I have so many angles and options and don't have to dress up the "still lifes." In the middle of chopping, I will just stop and say, "I like the look of this mess" and snap a shot or two. But, the final plate? Ohhhhh no, not even close. I start sweating. I get snippety. And bossy. You should have seen how I had Peter set up last night. It was going on 8 PM and I had him bring in his halogen work lamp and stand on a stool at an awkward yoga-like pose, and then hold the steaming hot bulb towards my spread while he watched me play with his cooling food as his stomach growled. And I stood on my stepladder, left eye totally blinded by the light (literally). I'm telling you, there's a lot of heart and soul that goes into these photos!

Wow...I apparently need to get used to typing up posts again. What a tangent! Enough of this. On with the food!!

Spaghetti & Meatballs
(see the original recipe here, from Bon Appétit's 10/2010 issue: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/spaghetti-and-meatballs)
serves: 6 prep time: 1 hr 30 min | chill time: 15 min - 1 hr | cook time: 1 hr

  • 2 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes in juice
  • 1/2  c. (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 medium onions, peeled, halved through root end
  • 1 lg. handful of basil, stems removed
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1/tsp salt
  • 1 c. fresh breadcrumbs (ideally French or country-style bread)
  • 1/c. whole milk
  • 8 oz ground beef (15% fat)
  • 8 oz ground pork
  • 1/c. finely ground (not grated) Parmesan cheese (Bon Appétit suggests 1 cup, but we found it too cheesy)
  • 1/c. finely chopped Italian (flat leaf) parsley
  • 1/tsp salt
  • 1/tsp black pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 lb spaghetti (interested in making your own?)
  • Additional fresh Parmesan for serving

Combine the tomatoes and their juice, butter, onions, basil, smashed garlic, and salt in a wide pot, like a deep, cast iron skillet. Bring the mix to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Here is where Bon Appétit tells us to discard the onions...But, I just cannot.  I keep all but one half and using an immersion blender, process the sauce just enough to break up any large pieces of tomato and purée all of the onion.
Season the sauce with more salt and freshly ground black pepper.


Combine the breadcrumbs and milk in small bowl; stir until the breadcrumbs are evenly moistened. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the beef and pork in a large bowl.  Break the meats up into small chunks. Add the ground Parmesan, parsley, salt, and pepper.

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and pressed garlic. Add to the meat mixture.

Using your hands, squeeze any remaining milk from the breadcrumbs, and reserve.  Add the breadcrumbs to the meat mixture.  Again, using your hands, quickly and gently mix the meat mixture just until all of the ingredients are evenly combined (do not overmix). 
Chill for at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.

Moisten hands with some of reserved milk from breadcrumbs, then roll the meat mixture between your palms into golf-ball-size balls, occasionally moistening your hands with the reserved milk as needed and arranging the meatballs in a single layer in the sauce in the pot. 

Bring the sauce to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the meatballs are cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.

Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water to al dente, stirring occasionally. Drain.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meatballs to a platter. Add the pasta to the pot of sauce and toss to coat. 

To serve, divide the pasta among 6 plates. Top each serving with the meatballs and sprinkle with some freshly grated Parmesan!

**One addition that we love to do with this recipe is whip up a sautéed veggie medley of green and red bell peppers, portobellos, shallots, and baby spinach, and serve as an additional garnish.


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