In defense of cooking – Meatballs in tomato sauce

Here’s my problem with the Sandra Lee’s of the world – they make cooking seem like such a horrible thing that you have to use crap ingredients to get something on the table.  I admit that most weeknights getting something on the table is a utilitarian exercise, but when you have the time, cooking is deeply satisfying.  Case in point – meatballs in sauce.  I made a batch and it’s a long and involved process but when you turn the iPod on and clean as you go along, it can be a fun process.

Now there are plenty of shortcuts you can make on this.  You can just use all canned tomatoes.  You can use pre-made sauce and doctor it up.  But please don’t skimp on the meatballs.  Make them from scratch.

So I start with the sauce.  On a bed of sliced onions and garlic (I use a cast iron skillet but you can use a roasting pan) roast about two pounds of golf ball sized tomatoes sliced in half by sprinkling them with salt and pepper and a light drizzle of olive oil.  Stick them in the oven at 400 degree for about 45 minutes.  They will look like this:

Roasted tomatoes

Then dump the roasted veggies with 2 16 oz cans of tomatoes (whole, chopped or crushed), 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh rosemary and 2 tablespoon of chopped fresh basil, a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of red pepper flakes (I actually use a whole dried red pepper), about a tablespoon of maggi seasoning if you have it and half a bottle of wine (red or white it doesn’t matter).  Simmer for half an hour.   Then you puree the whole shebang using a blender, food processor or immersion blender (MY FAV!).  Simmer for another half an hour.  Adjust seasonings.

For the meatballs mix 1 pound of ground turkey and 1 pound of 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese (quick cheap tip – I grate mine from Trader Joe’s Toscano black pepper cheese), 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, 1 teaspoon of chopped rosemary, 1teaspoon of chopped parsley, a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of pepper, 2 eggs and  1/4 cup of water.  Because I am lazy, I put the whole shebang into my KitchenAid and mix until everything is blended.  You can use your hands.  Here’s another trick I use which is slightly heretical.  Sear the meatballs in a nonstick skillet that is coated with oil (regular oil is just fine) until the meatballs are brown on all sides.  I’ve always had meatballs stick to the bottom of a regular pan so now I do it in nonstick.  Put the browned meatballs in the sauce and simmer for about half an hour to cook the meatballs through.

Plate artfully (hah!) and serve.  While you can do with with pasta and it would taste amazing, a nice slice of ciabatta works just as well.

My artful plating

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