Homemade is Better—Spaghetti and Meatballs

Happy belated Mother’s Day to all of you Mother’s out there.

I realize its after the fact in saying this, but I made sure to remember to honour my wife, albeit some of it last minute.  As a chef I used to work would say, “typical male.”

For Mother’s Day we made sure that my wife got her favorite meals.  Egg’s Benedict for breakfast and Spaghetti & Meatballs for dinner.  I realized that one of our favorite meals in our house is Spaghetti and Meatballs, something we don’t have very often.  There is something comforting about this meal.  A bit like when your parent would make chicken noodle soup for when you weren’t feeling well, or tomato soup and grilled cheese for days when its cool and a little overcast.

One of the best parts about making Spaghetti & Meatballs is the smell that fills the house while you’re making it.  The tomato sauce cooking for hours over medium low heat fills your home with an unforgettable fragrance! It really brings back memories of my youth, memories I’m hoping our kids have when they are grown  with families of their own.  On the rare occasion we even make our own pasta.  It is incredible easy to make; it takes some patience, but it’s easy.

One of the best parts of this meal is the side dishes.  Garlic bread and Caesar Salad, a nice glass of red wine.  I recently pointed out to my kids that Caesar salad isn’t Italian as most us think.  It wasn’t invented in Rome and named after any of the Caesar’s, it was invented in Mexico, by an Italian immigrant who lived in San Diego.  Caesar Cardini was a restauranteur who owned a few restaurants around San Diego, but bought a hotel in Tijuana, Mexico.  After a particularly busy July 4th he had run out of food.  Using what he had on hand in the kitchen at the time he invented the now famous salad.  It originally didn’t contain anchovies, but, instead, he used Worcestershire sauce to get the anchovy taste.  Next time you’re at a dinner party, perhaps a few months from now, you can keep that little tidbit under your hat!

Now, on to the main course: spaghetti and meatballs!  First, we make the sauce, it needs to cook for a while, but if you’re in a hurry and need a 20 minute meal you can speed this recipe up.  This is one of those things that always tastes better the next day too.  You’ll also notice that I don’t do much with my meatballs.  Salt, pepper, a little garlic and onion powder.  You can also substitute the dried herbs for fresh if you like, but you’ll want to decrease your amounts.  When I substitute in a recipe and I’m not sure how much to cut it down by, I visit a great website called foodsubs.com.

This is meant to be an easy recipe but have all your ingredients for the sauce ready to go because it will advance quite quickly.  After the sauce is started you can wait until it is hot or take several hours over low heat to cook it.  Either way you will reward your efforts and taste buds!

Spaghetti & Meatballs – Chef Corey

Tomato sauce

Ingredients

1 onion – diced
1 head of garlic – sliced
1 tablespoon Olive oil
½ cup of your favorite red wine (if you won’t drink it, do not put it in your food)
2 cans of whole tomatoes – diced with seeds removed
1 can of tomato paste
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried rosemary
2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 tsp Kosher salt
2 tsp ground black pepper

Directions:
  1. First, grab a larger pot, but do not turn on the stove yet.
  2. Dice your onions, slice your garlic, and add them to the pot along with the olive oil and 1 tsp of salt.
  3. Open your cans of tomatoes and tomato paste. Drain the while tomatoes over a bowl in a colander, cut them in half, remove the seeds, then dice and set aside.  You’re gong to use the tomato water as well, so keep it.
  4. Mix all your herbs, but the salt, pepper, or bay leaves, and set aside.
  5. Measure out the red wine if you’re going to use it. This is optional but does add flavor.
  6. Place the pot with the oil, onions, and garlic over medium high heat. Cook until the onions and garlic just start to brown.
  7. Turn the heat to maximum and add in the red wine. Stir until the wine is almost gone, then add in the herbs and another teaspoon of salt.
  8. Add in the tomato juice and bring it to a boil.
  9. Add the tomatoes and the paste. Stir until the paste is absorbed, meaning you will not be able to see the lumps of it.
  10. Bring the sauce to a boil, the add the pepper and bay leaves. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cover.
  11. If you’re taking the quick sauce approach, then let it simmer for at least 20 minutes. Otherwise, stir it every half hour for 2 – 3 hours.
  12. You can now remove the bay leaves and either serve it as is or use an immersion or regular blender to blend everything.
  13. Taste it. If you’re happy with the level of salt, then serve.  If the acid is overpowering, stir in 1 tsp of baking soda.  The baking soda will react with the acid in the sauce and neutralize it.
  14. Mic drop your wooden spoon like a boss!

Meatballs

Ingredients:

2 pounds of ground beef
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp black pepper
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
2 tsp Onion powder

Directions:
  1. Heat a frying pan large enough to hold all your meatballs over high heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  2. Mix everything in a bowl.
  3. Form into balls and sear in the pan. Turn them only when they move easily.  If you must use force, they don’t want to move.  Its ok, turn your heat to medium and test them every minute or so.
  4. Once they are browned, transfer them to your tomato sauce or place them into a 350F oven and cook until they reach 160F.

Spaghetti

Ingredients:

1 package of your favorite pasta
2 tablespoons kosher salt
4 cups of water

Directions:
  • Add the pasta to a large pot, fill up the pot about halfway and add the salt.
  • Put on a burner over high heat.
  • Bring to a boil, boil for 3 minutes then pull out one noodle and taste it. It should have some resistance to a bite, but very little.  That is known as al dente.  If it still requires a bite of effort to chew its not ready.  Despite what you have been told as you grew up, pasta doesn’t need to be added to boiling water, unless its fresh.  I’ve been cooking noodles this way for about 2 years now and there is no difference.  In fact, its almost faster and easier to get it right.
  • Drain your pasta, but do not rinse it. Serve it immediately by adding as many meatballs as you’d like, and pour on the sauce!  Buon appetite!  Saluti!!

 

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