Meatballs and Tomato Sauce

Fall is “Trending”  I think that in a previous life I was a chipmunk or squirrel, because as soon as the first few leaves fall off the trees, and the signs of fall start to appear, I get busy stocking up for the winter.   The days grow shorter around here, and it starts getting dark out early.  I find that when it gets dark out around supper time , you really don’t feel much like doing alot of cooking, it’s more like time to go to bed and hibernate, so that is why I love filling the freezer with as much prepared food as possible to help get a meal on the table during the winter months when you are tired after work and don’t have much energy  left to cook large meals.

When I first started making these meatballs , I used pork, veal, and ground beef, which is standard in any Italian meatball recipe.  Over the years, I have become a little more thrifty and realized that you can still make a great meatball with using only the ground beef and pork.  You can split the recipe up to use equal parts of all three meats, the only reason I only use the two is mostly economical .  The other thing I wanted to mention , was that since there is alot of work , enjoyable, but still work, to making this recipe, you can scale it down to fit your needs, not everyone has a deep freeze, or “supersized” dutch oven.  This is the way I have been making these meatballs for years, so I really just wanted to let you know this is the way I make it every year.

~Meatballs and Tomato Sauce~

Meatball Ingredients

  • 3 lb(1.4kg) ground pork
  • 4lbs(1.8kg)  extra lean ground beef
  • 12 eggs lightly beaten
  • 2 cups (500mL) grated Parmesan cheese
  • 12 cloves of garlic, chopped and lightly sauteed in a little olive oil
  • 2 cups (500mL) fine  dry bread crumbs
  • 2 cups(500mL) chopped cilantro , remove large stems
  • 2 tbsp(30mL) salt
  • 3 tbsp(45mL) ground black pepper
  • 1 cup olive oil

Tomato Sauce Ingredients

  • 6 tbsp(90mL) olive oil
  • 3 large onions , finely chopped
  • 12 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 6 cans (28 oz ea) chopped tomatoes with juice
  • 2 small cans (5.5 oz) of tomato paste
  • 8 bay leaves
  • 3 small bunches or handfuls of chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp(15mL) red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp(5mL) salt
  • 2 tsp(10mL) ground black pepper
  • 18 basil leaves chopped

Preparation

To make the meatballs, first I chop the garlic and lightly saute in a tbsp (15mL)  of olive oil, and  let cool.   Break eggs into a separate bowl in case any shells get into it , and lightly beat the eggs with a whisk or fork.  In a large bowl, add the meat, breaking it up .  Add the eggs, garlic, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, cilantro, salt and pepper.  Mix very well .  Shape meat mixture into small meatballs approximately 2 inches in diameter .

Heat 1 cup of olive oil over medium high heat,  in a large dutch oven , or cast iron pot, or any other large pot with a thick bottom for frying.   Fry until brown, but not all the way cooked through ( meatballs will be cooking in sauce) , remove with slotted spoon, and place on paper towels on a large baking sheet.

Sauce

Heat olive oil in frying pan , and add onions and garlic, cooking until soft, remove from heat, and set aside.   In a large pot ( I have a large 18 quart electric roaster ) , add all the tomatoes and tomato paste, then using an immersion  blender , blend or puree the tomatoes until just chunky, then add the onions , garlic, bay leaves, cilantro, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and basil.  Cook on medium high heat until it starts bubbling, then turn down to low, add the meat balls. Gently turn the sauce over the meatballs with a large wooden spoon, and cover , cooking on low for a couple of hours or until done, stirring every 15-20 minutes .  Serve with a pasta of your choice, and some good red wine! (wine optional)

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