Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Pasta With Meatballs and Sauce

On The surface this looks like plain old spaghetti and meatballs, but this is a little more detailed...At least according to Red Book where I got this recipe from.  Oh don't look at me like that...I get my recipes from a lot of sources...This is the first time I looked in Redbook in my life....It was the most interesting thing to read in my doctor's office!

Okay, check it out..You have three options for cooking the meatballs. The main recipe calls for baking them, but you can also sauté the meatballs in a little oil before you finish cooking them in the sauce, or you can also cook them right in the sauce. Baking and simmering the meatballs is easier and frees you up for other pursuits, like mah-jongg. Or laundry. Or Irish folk dancing. Seriously, has any mom ever been able to identify extra time?

A classic meat combo for meatballs (and traditional meat loaf, for that matter) is about one third each of veal, beef, and pork. You can often find this in the meat area of the supermarket labeled "meat loaf mixture," and if so, your work is done. If not, you can ask the butcher (who may well sell this mixture already), or buy the three meats and mix them together in any proportion you like (do not make yourself in any way crazy about the one third, one third, one third thing), or buy two meats, or even just one. You can also use ground turkey; see the variation for more info.

  • 1 slice(s) plain bread
  • 1/4 cup(s) milk
  • 1 1/4 pound(s) ground meat, preferably a combination of beef, pork, and veal
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup(s) finely freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving (optional)
  • 2 tablespoon(s) finely minced fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) finely minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) kosher or coarse salt, plus more for cooking the pasta
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) freshly ground black pepper
  • Nonstick cooking spray, if you are baking the meatballs
  • 4 cup(s) sauce from Good Old Spaghetti and Tomato Sauce, or store-bought tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoon(s) olive oil, if you are sautéing the meatballs
  • 1 package(s) (16-ounce) dried pasta, anything from spaghetti to ziti to rigatoni
  1. Tear the bread into pieces and place them in a small bowl. Pour the milk over the bread, stir to combine, and let sit until the bread has absorbed most of the milk, about 5 minutes. Squeeze out the excess milk and shred the bread into little pieces.
  2. Place the meat in a large bowl. Add the soaked bread, egg, Parmesan, parsley, if using, garlic, salt, and pepper. Using your hands, blend the meat mixture well but try not to squeeze it too much. Form the meat mixture into nice round meatballs about 1 1/2 inches in size.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
  4. Arrange the meatballs on the baking sheet so that they are not touching. Bake the meatballs until almost cooked through, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, bring the tomato sauce to a simmer in a medium-size pot over medium-low heat. Add the partially cooked meatballs to the sauce and let them simmer until fully cooked, about 10 minutes.
  5. While the meatballs are cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add salt and let the water return to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions. Drain the pasta and serve it with the sauce and meatballs. Serve extra Parmesan on the side to sprinkle over the meatballs, if you like.
Don't sweat the TIPS & TECHNIQUES:

Other Meatballs: You can use all beef, all pork, or all veal, or any combo of the three. You can also use turkey (in this case the mixture will be a bit softer and so a little trickier to handle and keep in perfectly round balls). You can even use a mixture of turkey and one of the other meats, if you just want to lighten the meatballs up a bit.

Other Cooking Methods: To sauté the meatballs: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add half of the meatballs and brown them on all sides, about 5 minutes in total. Remove the browned meatballs. Repeat with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the rest of the meatballs. Set the meatballs aside and pour off all but 2 teaspoons of fat. Heat the tomato sauce in the skillet over medium heat (if you are making the tomato sauce from scratch, you can do this right in this skillet). Scrape the bottom of the skillet to incorporate all of the nice little crusty bits into the sauce. When the sauce is simmering, slide the browned meatballs into the skillet and gently stir so they are all coated with the sauce. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the meatballs, stirring occasionally, until they are cooked through and tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

To cook the meatballs right in the sauce: Bring the tomato sauce to a simmer in a medium-size pot over medium-low heat. Add the raw meatballs to the sauce, increase the heat to medium, partially cover the pot, and let simmer, without stirring, for about 5 minutes. Very carefully shake the pot to prevent breaking up the meatballs and let them cook in the sauce, partially covered and stirring gently and occasionally so that the sauce doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot, until the meatballs are fully cooked, about 25 minutes in all. If some of the fat from the meat rises to the top of the sauce, you can spoon it off if you like.

Probably my longest post for this blog...

Do have a nice glass of red wine with this dish-

Enjoy!  Eat Well My Friends!


Food Safety Tips
Protect yourself against food-borne illnesses.

1. Use a "refrigerator thermometer" to keep your food stored at a safe temperature (below 40 degrees fahrenheit).

Cold temperatures slow the growth of bacteria. Ensuring that your refrigerator temperature stays at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder is one of the most effective ways to reduce your risk of food-borne illness. You can buy a refrigerator/freezer thermometer at appliance stories, home centers (i.e. Home Depot), and kitchen stores including online ones, such as

2. Defrost food in the refrigerator, the microwave, or in cold water... never on the counter!

Perishable foods should never be thawed on the counter for longer than two hours because, while the center of the food may remain frozen, the outer surface may enter the Danger Zone, the range of temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees fahrenheit, in which bacteria multiply rapidly. If you’re short on time, use the microwave or you can thaw meat and poultry in airtight packaging in cold water. Change the water every half-hour so it stays cold and use the thawed food immediately.

3. Always use separate cutting boards for raw meat/poultry/fish and cooked foods/fresh produce.

Bacteria from uncooked meat, poultry, and fish can contaminate cooked foods and fresh produce. An important way to reduce this risk is to use separate cutting boards for raw meat/poultry/ fish, and cooked foods/fresh produce.

4. Always cook meat to proper temperatures, using a calibrated instant-read thermometer to make sure.

One effective way to prevent illness is to use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of meat, poultry, and egg dishes. The USDA Recommended Safe Minimum Internal Temperatures are as follows:

* Beef, veal, and lamb (steaks and roasts), fish - 145 degrees fahrenheit

* Pork and ground beef - 160 degrees fahrenheit

* Poultry - 165 degrees fahrenheit.

Cook meats like roasts and steaks to lower temperatures, closer to medium-rare, so that they retain their moisture. It is recommended that those who are at high risk for developing food-borne illness (i.e. pregnant women and their unborn babies, newborns, young children, older adults, people with weakened immune systems, or certain chronic illnesses) should follow the USDA guidelines.

5. Avoid unpasteurized/raw milk and cheeses made from unpasteurized milk that are aged less than 60 days.

Raw milk is milk from cows, sheep, or goats that has not been pasteurized (heated to a very high temperature for a specific length of time) to kill harmful bacteria that may be present. These bacteria, which include salmonella, E. coli and listeria, can cause serious illness and sometimes even death. The bacteria in raw milk can be especially dangerous to pregnant women, children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems or chronic illnesses. Raw milk cheeses aged 60 days or longer are okay, since the salt and acidity of the cheese-making process make for a hostile environment to pathogens.

6. Never eat "runny" eggs or foods, such as cookie dough, that contain raw eggs.

Even eggs that have clean, intact shells may be contaminated with salmonella, so it’s important to cook eggs thoroughly until both the yolk and the white are firm. Casseroles and other dishes containing eggs should be cooked to 160 degrees fahrenheit and you can use an instant-read food thermometer to check. Eggs should always be cooked fully and those who are at high risk for developing foodborne illness (pregnant women and their unborn babies, newborns, young children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems or certain chronic illnesses should follow the USDA guidelines. If you can’t resist runny eggs or sampling cookie batter, use pasteurized eggs. They’re found near other eggs in large supermarkets.

7. Always wash your hands in warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds before handling food and after touching raw meat, poultry, or eggs.

You can pick up a lot of bacteria out in the world, so it’s important to always wash your hands before you eat or prepare food. You should also wash your hands after touching any uncooked meat, poultry, fish, or eggs, as the bacteria from these foods can contaminate cooked foods and fresh produce. Use soap and warm water and wash thoroughly for at least 20 seconds.

8. Always heat leftover foods to 165 degrees fahrenheit.

The USDA recommends heating all cooked leftovers to 165 degrees fahrenheit in order to kill all potentially dangerous bacteria.

9. Never eat meat, poultry, eggs, or sliced fresh fruits and vegetables that have been left out for more than two hours or more than one hour in temperatures hotter than 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you leave perishable foods out of the refrigerator or freezer for more than two hours they may enter the Danger Zone—the unsafe temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, in which bacteria multiply rapidly.

10. Whenever there’s a food recall, check products stored at home to make sure they are safe.

You should discard any food that’s been recalled because it’s associated with the outbreak of a food-borne illness. But, according to a survey conducted by Rutgers University during the fall of 2008, only about 60% of Americans search their homes for foods that have been recalled because of contamination. For more information on food recalls, visit the website

Cavier & Vodka
Courtesy of The Lady (Bug) of the Household