Thursday, November 5, 2009

Spaghetti and Meatballs

I used to always make my own pasta sauce. I would use a mix of sausage and ground meat and brown that and add a number of ingredients, including bourbon to make my sauce. It was a lot of work, so over time I stopped making it. Then a few years ago, I clipped a recipe for Spaghetti and Meatballs from a local paper. I hung onto it for a while, but never made it. Then I decided that I really needed to start trying the recipes I clipped and either keep them or throw them out, I was just accumulating too many. About 4 months ago, I made the Spaghetti and Meatball recipe I had clipped and it is now a favorite of mine. Unlike the meatballs I make for Lasagna, the meatballs for this dish are cooked right in the sauce, no frying or baking required. After eating this a few times, when I made pasta with jarred sauce, my husband commented on how sweet the sauce seems. I guess we were all growing accustomed to this rich tomato-y sauce.

I like to make a big pan of this up, have it for dinner and pack up the rest for the freezer. Then, we can have homemade spaghetti and meatball sauce anytime.

Spaghetti & Meatballs

2 Tbsp finely chopped onion
2 large cans of crushed tomatoes
1 12oz can tomato paste
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 bay leaf

2# ground meat
6 slices of bread (the recipe calls for day old, grated, but I use fresh bread, dampened, squeezed and torn)
2 1/2 Tbsp grated Parmesan or Romano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
5 eggs
1 clove garlic, grated
1 small onion, grated
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp parsley

Put a little bit of oil in the bottom of a large pot and add the onions. Saute over medium heat. Add the crushed tomatoes and 1 1/2 large cans of water to the pot. Add the tomato paste and 2 cans of water (they suggest premixing, but I usually mix it in the pot). Add salt and pepper to taste and the bay leaf.

Make the meatballs by combining all ingredients with hands. Roll into meatballs (I keep mine smaller, so I get more). Drop into the sauce.

Bring sauce to a boil, then turn the heat down half way. Let it bubble for about 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

I will confess that I modified the recipe to meet my needs. The original called for whole tomatoes and had you squeeze out all of the juice and throw out the tomatoes. To me, this didn't sound right - first, it seemed the sauce would be too thin and second, it seemed like a waste of good tomatoes - so I substituted from the beginning with crushed tomatoes and use the whole thing. Same thing with the bread, I didn't read the recipe ahead of time, so I didn't have time to allow my bread to dry overnight. As such, I resorted to the way I incorporated the bread in my other meatball recipe, which was to dampen it, squeeze it out and tear it into the bowl. You get more bread pieces this way, but it is also less dry than a "bread crumb" filler that you would get by grating.

For more make ahead meals, check out the Ultimate Recipe Swap Make Ahead Meals edition, over at Life As Mom.

This recipe also shared at The Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap.