Wednesday, June 22, 2011
"Mommy, I finish my meatballs! More please?"  Out of the mouth of babes... If there's one thing I've realized I can make and my entire family enjoys, it's spaghetti and meatballs.  Now, I'm not talking about the pre-made meatballs, dried boxed pasta and marinara sauce out of a jar.  I'm talking real meatballs made from scratch, sauce made from San Marzano tomatoes and fresh pasta.

I know what you're thinking, making something like that takes too much time and if you're a busy mom like me, time is precious and very limited, but trust me when I tell you that it's not a difficult as it may sound.  You don't have to roll out your own pasta to have it fresh, opt for a refrigerated or even frozen pasta.  They take anywhere from a few seconds (refrigerated pasta takes 30-45 seconds to fully cook in boiling water) to mere minutes (frozen pasta can take up to 3 minutes) as opposed to dried pasta which needs to cook for several minutes.  Although these pastas are very easy to cook, they are just as easy to over cook, causing them to stick together and form a hard gooey mess!  Just make sure that when you're ready to cook the pasta, you're there at all times ready to blanch the pasta and pull it out quick.  This is the closest thing to rolling out and cutting your own pasta and only takes seconds.

As for the sauce and meatballs, that's a cinch too!  Here's my recipe for the perfect sauce:

  • 1 can San Marzano tomatoes (buy crushed San Marzano if you're pressed for time)
  • 1-2 cups of beef stock
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)
Heat olive oil in sauce pan.  Mince garlic and saute in oil oil until golden brown (Do Not overcook the garlic because it will give the sauce a bitter taste).  Add San Marzano tomatoes, beef stock, thyme, rosemary, oregano and bay leaves.  Stir until all ingredients are combined.  Allow to simmer covered for 1 hour on medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Add salt and pepper to flavor and serve.

If there's one thing I have to say, it's this: there's nothing like San Marzano tomatoes when it comes to making sauce!  You can try fresh tomatoes or regular canned tomatoes, but I assure you, the taste just doesn't compare!  Don't just take my word for it, try it yourself if you don't believe me.  I know I didn't think anything of them before I really started to try to understand the whole art of cooking, but I now have a deep appreciation for these canned beauties.

When it comes to the meat balls, here's my secret - COOK IT IN THE SAUCE!!! I can't stress that enough.  By cooking the meatballs in the sauce, you're allowing the meat to retain it's natural juices making your meatballs all that much more tasty!  Thanks to my darling chef of a husband and the infamous Mr. Mario Batali for this precious tip!  For one thing, it's one less step to deal with, cooking the meatballs in a skillet or in the oven, which causes the meat to lose a great deal of it's juices making the meatball dry and flavorless.  Try my recipe for the prefect meatball and cook it in your sauce next time you go to make spaghetti and meatballs.  I promise you this, once you try meatballs like this, you'll never go back to your old ways again!

I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I've enjoyed making them! Buon Appetito!


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