Mama Mia’s Ultimate Meatballs

February 25, 2011

Spaghetti and the Ultimate Meatball

Are you looking for some comfort food that is upscale enough for company?  These ultimate meatballs are loaded with fresh ingredients and served with a simple fresh tomato and herb sauce over whole wheat spaghetti.  Ha!  So they are good for you too!

Top the dish off with a quick grate of aged parmigiano-reggiano and a sprig of fresh basil and you have a show stopper.

Steaming Hot Spaghetti and Meatballs

You can dish up individual bowls in the kitchen to make sure each dish looks fantastic, or you can serve the whole thing family style at the table.  I used a big wooden salad bowl to give the dish that rustic Italian look.  It was just gorgeous.  And did I mention how delicious this dish is?  Wowee, one of the best things I’ve made in a long time.

I was inspired by Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Meatball show.  He had gone to Italy in search of the ultimate meatball.  He found several locally famous Italian chefs who mentored him on how to make the ultimate meatball.  Each of the chefs had their own special twists, and Tyler gave the recipe his own special twist, and I, of course, gave everything my final twist.  I should have played some Chubby Checker while I was doing all that twisting!   (I had to look that up in Wikipedia.  I am way too young to know who Chubby Checker is.)

I made the meatballs with sirloin, pork and veal.  I sauteed some diced onion and parsley first.  I used a half a loaf of french baguette and took the crust off, then pulled it into small pieces.  I soaked it in some milk for about ten minutes, then drained it.  I mixed the meat, soggy bread, onion, parsley, some fresh chopped basil, some grated Parmesan cheese and FOUR eggs along with salt and pepper.  All the Italian Mama Mia’s said to only mix long enough to pull everything together.  The more you mix, the tougher the meatball.  So, ever so gently, I mixed everything together.

Ready to pop in the oven

Once mixed, I formed a handful of the soggy mixture into good sized balls and rolled them in a dish of dried breadcrumbs.  I plopped the breaded meatballs into a large fry pan with a little olive oil and browned them on two sides.  I removed them from the fry pan and set them into a 9 by 13 glass baking dish.

In a separate saute pan, I made a very simple, fresh tomato sauce.  I used the small tomatoes that come attached to the vine.  I didn’t peel or seed them.  I just cut them up into fairly large chunks and sauteed them in olive oil with garlic, onion and fresh basil.  I didn’t saute for very long, just a few minutes.  Then I poured this mixture all over the meatballs in the 9 by 13 pan.  I topped everything off with fresh mozzarella that I had torn into small pieces.  A final grating of fresh parmigiano-reggiano and the whole thing went into the oven for only 30 minutes.

Just out of the oven

When the meatballs where done, I removed them to a platter and covered them with tin foil.  I scraped all the remaining tomato sauce and tomato bits from the baking dish into a saute pan (the same one I used to make the sauce in the first place).

Meanwhile, I had put a pot of water on for the spaghetti.  I used whole wheat pasta, but you can use whatever kind you like.  Just before the spaghetti was done, I took a couple ladlefulls of pasta water and added it to the saute pan with the rest of the tomato sauce.  I added about a cup of beef stock and a squeeze of tomato paste (or a tablespoon if using a can of paste).  I stirred that all together, then added the cooked spaghetti right from the pot of hot water to the saute pan.  No need to drain the pasta.  Just scoop it up with tongs and add it to the sauce in the saute pan.  Gently toss the pasta with the sauce to completely coat the pasta.

At this point you can arrange some of the pasta in individual dishes and top each with a meatball, some parmigiana and a fresh sprig of basil, or you can arrange a large family size platter or bowl with the spaghetti topped with all the meatballs, a bit of parmigiana and some fresh basil.  Either way, it will be a wowee dish!  I hope your guests enjoy this as much as mine did.

Here is the link for the recipe:

Mama Mia’s Ultimate Meatballs

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Sunday, January 24, 2010 – London Broil

January 25, 2010

London Broil is an inexpensive cut of meat, but if properly handled can be an elegant meal for company.  I used to select my menus for company meals by looking through my cook books, magazines, watching a few cooking shows, or all of the above.  These day, I go to the grocery to see what is on sale.  This week, Top Round London Broil was on sale for $2.99 a pound and it looked beautiful.  So, London Broil it is. 

Back in the 70’s and 80’s,  I remember london broil was something you ordered at a fancy restaurant and it always had this same sweet and sour kind of taste.  A little like steak sauce, but it was in the marinade not the sauce.  I’ve been searching for a recipe that duplicates this specific flavor I remember, but can’t come up with one.  I went to old cookbooks thinking that might do it, but no such luck.  Until I find the recipe that brings back those fond memories, I use the recipe listed here.  It is delicious, just not the same as the one I remember.

Grilled London Broil

Grilled London Broil with Brown Rice and Steamed Green Beans

 

MENU:

London Broil

Herbed Brown & Wild Rice

Buttered Fresh Green Beans

Angel Food Cake with Strawberries & Whipped Cream


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