Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Spaghetti & Meatballs

Spaghetti and Meatballs
     Like i said in the meatball recipe, i'm no one's Italian grandmother, and i didn't learn from one.(i really would have loved to have had an Italian grandmother, a Nona.) There is no 7 generations of tradition in my sauce. That being said, its still pretty darn good, or my family & friends have all been lying to me just to make me feel good. The following makes enough sauce for a pound of pasta, 2 dozen meatballs, 8 sausage, leftovers, and 2 quart containers to be frozen for later use. I usually freeze 1/2  of the 2 dozen meatballs in a freezer bag for another spaghetti dinner or to slice into a lasagna.

2 29 oz. cans Ground Peeled Tomato
1 29 oz. can Crushed Tomato
1 29 oz can Tomato Puree
1 large Onion, diced fine - I love Vidalia
1/4 lb bacon -about 4-6 slices diced
1 cup Red Wine - Your Favorite Will Do
1/2 cup Romano or Parmesan Cheese, grated
2-3 tbsp olive oil.
1 tsp - 1 tbsp Minced Fresh Garlic - Garlic can be a very personal decision!
2 tbsp Basil, dry
1 tbsp Paprika
1 tbsp sugar
1-2 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp - tbsp Red Pepper Flake - Adjust for your level of Spice Control, a dash of Cayenne really helps too!

     This sauce has volume, especially once the meatballs & sausage get dropped in. You will want a deep, wide pan to make life easier for stirring and avoiding boil over. I usually start the sauce when i pop the meatballs in the oven if i am making on the same day.

     Begin by rendering the bacon in the olive oil over a medium low heat. Dust the bacon lightly with black pepper to begin building flavor. When the bacon is about halfway cooked, add the onion, dusting again with black pepper. keeping the heat on medium low, stirring occasionally. The onions will soften & begin to caramelize, but it takes time. Add the garlic when the onions are almost done, i go for just before truly caramelized. Keep stirring to avoid burning the garlic, just a minute or so. Add the wine, basil, paprika, red and black pepper & raise heat to medium high.

     Simmer until wine is reduced by about half, adjusting heat down as needed. If your children, or anyone else, does not like to see veggies and bits of bacon in their sauce, you can hit with an immersion blender here or put into a stand blender. Please be careful, hold cap on blender down with a towel, i have napalmed the kitchen before! Reduce to heat  medium low if not there already from simmering. Add the tomato one can at a time slowly, whisking into the base. Slowly whisk in the cheese. Before adding salt, sugar or any more seasoning, let simmer slowly for a good ten minutes & taste very carefully, blow on that spoon twice! Depending on your wine, tomatoes & all the other ingredients, this is the time to season to taste. A really sweet wine may eliminate the sugar, some brands of tomato may have enough salt added for your family.

     Once the sauce is simmering slowly, gently add the meatballs and sausage if using. The meatballs have been cooked in the oven, but they will continue to flavor the sauce. If you are adding sausage, let simmer at least 1 1/2 hours to cook if you have not browned the sausage.(browning first adds great flavor and an extra pan to clean!) Any other pork product, like thin chops on the bone or spare ribs cut into sections, will also add tremendous flavor, but you will need to simmer longer, about. 2 hours to fully cook. The meatballs will hold up to low and slow simmering.

Serve with 1 pound of spaghetti or your favorite pasta. Enjoy!

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