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The Misadventures of Mrs. B: Homemade Meatballs and Sauce

Cook. Writer. Wife. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Klutz.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Homemade Meatballs and Sauce

When you're a pasta addict like me, you're always looking for new ways to coat it and dress it up.

Okay, I would take just olive oil.  I'm cool with that.

But not everyone else is.

So when I'm having a serious pasta craving, I'll get crafty and say, "Hmmm...maybe I'll make a big pot of sauce and meatballs this weekend".  And what goes with the sauce and meatballs? Pasta!


Last weekend, though, I had an actual excuse.  Family was coming over for dinner and pasta is the great equalizer.  Plus it can be made in bulk.

So I made a great big pot o' love.  Let's explore the process, shall we?

My first task was to make the meatballs.

Mmm, parsley.  The store didn't have any flat-leaf parsley but really, curly parsley is okay.  I grabbed a huge handful and chopped it up fine in the food processor.  This was for both the meatballs and the sauce.

Instead of using canned breadcrumbs, I sliced Italian bread which was on its last leg and dried it in the oven.  I also used several slices of white which, again, was about ready to kick the bucket.

The bread went into the oven for 20 minutes @ 300 degrees until it was golden and crisp.  Then I used my oh-so-trusty food processor to make them crumbly.  I love that food processor so much.

 That's a lot of meat, huh? Yeah, around 5lbs.  Why? Because I'm all about leftovers, baby.  And we definitely had leftovers.

I poured in my breadcrumbs.  Around 1 1/2 cups.

On top of that went 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese.  Yum.

And 1/2 cup of parsley.

What you see there is a teaspoon of onion powder.  I wound up putting almost three of these in the mix so really it was more like a tablespoon by the time I was finished.

And there's a tablespoon of garlic powder.  See? I got smart.

Then three eggs went in, along with a generous dose of salt and pepper.  I think that salt and pepper are a personal choice, "to taste" and whatnot.  I'm not a huge pepper fan so I probably under-pepper everything.

Then I rolled up my sleeves and got my hands dirty.  What can I say - I'm dedicated.

Once mixed, I took out my trusty, scratched ice cream scoop and used it to make fairly uniform meatballs.

Here's what I was left with.

Into the 350 degree oven they went for 30 minutes, and when they came out they

Kinda gross.  I took them out with a slotted spoon and drained them on paper towels before putting them in my sauce to finish cooking.

Speaking of saaaaauce....

I started with two small onions and 5 cloves of garlic.

The onions went into guessed processor.  Why? Because I cannot seem to deal with onions without crying my eyes out all day. 

But honestly, when it does this for you...


...why not?

Then mince up your garlic.

Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a large (laaaarge) pot.  Remember, you are not only going to be cooking sauce, you'll be cooking the meatballs as well.  So just keep that in mind when you choose a pot.  Otherwise you'll have to switch pots once you've run out of room...

Not that I, uh, did that myself.  Or anything.

Moving on.

Cook you onions in that olive oil until they turn translucent.  Don't brown them! Add your garlic and cook that for about a minute - it's a-gonna smell-a pretty good...a.

Then quickly add 12 oz of tomato paste and stir it all around to let the paste brown a bit.

Then it's time for the tomatoes.  I added 5, count 'em, 5 large cans of diced tomatoes.  That's right.  5.

Time for spices! Dump in the rest of your parsley that wasn't used in the meatballs.

I ask you: How beautiful is that?

Now it's time for basil.

Here is basil.

Stack the leaves.

Roll them up into a cigar type thingy, starting from the stem end.  Or the other end.  Go crazy.

And slice it thinly.

I just love food.  Food is pretty.  Am I alone in this?

Whew.  Okay.  Get it together, Jen.

Once you're done staring at your pretty basil, put that in your sauce and stir it around.

To this I added lots of salt and pepper, dried thyme and oregano.  That's all "to taste".  You might like some wine in your sauce.  Add it! You prefer more garlic or onion? Toss that in there, too!

One other thing I did add as the sauce cooked down over the course of several hours was a healthy, healthy pinch of sugar.  I've been told that brown sugar does a better job of cutting the acidity than white.  However, white was what I had on hand so that's what I used.  Use what you have, folks!

The message: If you have your basics down, everything else is just waiting for you to put your own touch on it.

Once the basic sauce was finished being put together, I ladled out a small pot of sauce for the vegetarian guest, then added the meatballs to the large pot.

Then switched out for a larger pot. 

Then cooked it all up on low heat for around 6 hours.  And let me tell you...the meatballs were like heaven.  I love cooking them for hours in the sauce, it gives them the best flavor and does wonderful things for the sauce.  Plus a couple of the meatballs broke down as I kept stirring the sauce to prevent stickage, and it made the sauce that much thicker and more wonderful.

Fact: I never cooked a meatball in sauce until I met my husband.  I also never added parmesan cheese to them.  True story.  He says my meatballs have gotten better over time but they still aren't as good as his.  Well I like to think that he taught me how to improve on them.

Sometimes it really does take an Italian.  Go figure.  Just don't tell him I told you.  Oh wait...he reads this.


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Blogger Scribbler said...

Wow! The Sopranos got nothing on you, Sugar. These look pretty doggone authentic to me -- of course, my ancestors were Irish-Scottish-English, and I live in Alabama, but I do know good food!
Thanks for stopping by my blog -- ya'll come back anytime.


March 13, 2010 at 6:46 PM

Blogger Wendy said...

Jen, we also love to cook our meatballs in the sauce! you are so right it does something amazing to the meatballs and the sauce! yep..learned that trick from my italian husband,too!!
have a great weekend :)

March 13, 2010 at 7:25 PM

Blogger ~Issy said... mouth is watering! LOVE how you did your photos...sometimes i'm 'cooking-challenged' and need photos!

Glad i stumbbled across your blog!

March 13, 2010 at 8:45 PM

Blogger Erica said...

My mouth is watering for your the way you did your photo's. Thanks for stopping by with your nice comment. I'll be a follower now.


March 13, 2010 at 9:10 PM

Blogger MrsJenB said...

I am so happy that you all like the pics and the recipe! :-) You've made my night!

March 13, 2010 at 10:01 PM

Blogger sheila said...

Hey this is an AWESOME tutorial! I love that idea with the leaves in a cigar type roll!

March 14, 2010 at 2:59 PM

Blogger Joyful said...

Thanks for stopping by for my Round Robin.
I enjoyed reading your post.
I am your newest follower.

March 14, 2010 at 3:06 PM

Blogger Nicole Feliciano said...

Great post. I could almost smell the yumminess of your kitchen.

March 14, 2010 at 8:39 PM

Blogger Kelly @ The Startup Wife said...

Okay, YUM.

Also, how genius to use an ice cream scoop to make meatballs. I would never have thought of that, but it makes perfect sense!

March 15, 2010 at 1:38 AM

Anonymous Kim said...

OMG Jen. I am salivating. I cannot wait to move and get busy making these.

March 15, 2010 at 6:59 PM

Blogger Jama said...

This sure looks yummy!

March 18, 2010 at 3:12 AM

Blogger Martha said...

That really is beautiful! Thanks for posting at the Color Carnival. I'm a pasta addict too :-)

March 18, 2010 at 2:46 PM

Blogger @nemonen said...

I wouldnĀ“t mind to taste it!

March 19, 2010 at 4:52 AM


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