Stories of Friendship, Family, Fun and Food.
All the way from the Emerald Isle!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Meaty Meatballs

We have a very noisy house. I am kind of loud (and overbearing) for the most part, and the kids can't sit at the table and have quiet conversation. There is always lively conversation or a debate over something  (or nothing) going on. 

Somehow, and I am thankful for this, dinner time in our house ends up being so much more than just 'dinner'. It is the place to be on a Friday night. 

Knowing that a few of our friends were coming over for supper, I decided to 'help' the Chef with dinner, because we were having one of my favourite things ever. Spagetti and meatballs.

Earlier this week, Ron had used up the last of our summer Basil plant (we say BAY-zihl; you say BA-zihl)
and made a tomato basil sauce. So the hard part was done. If you have never made your own pasta sauce and insist on buying the sugar loaded ones at the grocery store, then try this easy peasy recipe and you will be hooked. 

Basil Infused Olive Oil
2 cups Olive oil
1 whole bulb of garlic
1 med size onion (chopped)
2 good handfuls of Basil

Throw it all into a pot and cook until the onion and basil are turning brown, but not burnt. 
Remove from the heat and strain in a wire mesh strainer (not a plastic one)

Open five cans of plum tomatoes and dump into a large bowl. (chop the tomatoes if whole)
Add in your infused olive oil and voila. 

Pasta (or pizza) sauce, done! You can store it in the fridge for a week (easily) and we like to freeze little baggies of it for those nights when you just don't feel like cooking!

Next, onto the meatballs.
This is a fairly big recipe that fed 6 adults and four kids last night and we still have some meatballs in the fridge that might be 'Cheesy Meatball Sandwiches' for lunch later today.

1 1/2 pound Ground Beef
1 1/2 pound Ground Pork
1 1/2 pound Ground Turkey
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (with chopped raw garlic and parsley)
6 eggs
2 cups of milk
1 cup grated parmesan cheese (can be omitted if there are cheese allergies)
Lots of ground pepper
4 tsp of salt

Before you move on, get two large sheet pans greased with some olive oil and turn the oven on high.
Also, get a small frying pan and leave it on the stove top (warming) with a little olive oil.

Now, here is the yucky part. Put it all in a bowl and mix with your bare hands. Raw meat, raw eggs, milk, have to really love food to get into this part. I hate raw meat and all the raw eggs etc. but this is the best way to truly 'make' these meatballs. You need to mix this up like a bread dough. Making sure it is completely mixed all the way through.

Before you start making the meatballs, take a small amount of the meat/mix and fry it in that small pan you have waiting. As soon as it is cooked, assume because all the kids were eagerly waiting to eat it and did so without worrying that they might burn their mouths that it is perfect the way it is, taste it for seasoning and adjust to suit yourself. 

Now, make into a nice size meatball (not the little ones) and place on the (already prepared) sheet pans. Cook in the oven for twenty minutes or (my personal favourite when I ask the Chef a million time's if there are done yet) 'until they are done'.  


SO, before I get into the PASTA part of the meal, find the largest pot you own and fill it 3/4 of the way with water and put it on to boil. You ALWAYS have to add SALT to the water. The water should taste like the ocean. DO not use low sodium salt here (unless of course your doctor has advised you to stick to a low sodium diet). As a matter of fact, whilst I am on the subject, if you own low-sodium salt, throw it away. It has a terrible taste. Go buy some Maldon Sea Salt (large flakes) and some plain old Saxa table salt. 

OK, where was I. Oh yes, the first thing you need to know is 'I do not like pasta'. The only time I eat pasta is when the resident Chef cooks it. I also HATE cooking pasta, because in this house, if pasta overcooks, then pasta is thrown out, and we have to start all over again. Therefore, I never cook the pasta. If you live in the US, then the pasta you should be buying is La Molissana. Why? Because it is the best. If you live on the other side of the pond where we are, then you should be eating DeCecco. Why? Because it is the best. If you want to make your own pasta from scratch, then do so, but you will get great results from either of the above brands, every time. 

Once the water has come to the boil, dump in two packets of linguine and stir the pasta continuously. Do not stop stirring. Never (ever) break the pasta. That is just wrong, and the Italians never do it. If you have been breaking your pasta all along, because it will not fit in the pot, then go out and buy a bigger pot. The linguine will only take 9 minutes to cook. Get a large strainer set up in your sink and once it is done (taste it - do you like the texture? Al dente is best) strain the pasta and set it aside for a few minutes. NEVER EVER rinse it with water. 

Now, those yummy meatballs are cooked (and hopefully you did not let them burn). In another large pot, pour in your tomato sauce and all your meatballs. Allow to come to the boil then simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour (or longer if you are waiting for your BFF to arrive with the wine). 

The longer the meatballs simmer, the softer and fluffier and lighter they become. Just make sure you have the pot on a low simmer and do not burn the sauce/meatballs. You will notice a lot of the excess oil floating to the top. Ladle it off and keep it. This is your infused olive oil. You can use it tomorrow for making the same kind of sauce again for lasagne! Waste not want not!

Last but not least, dig out a loaf of stale bread (I know you all have one) and make some garlic butter (several cloves of raw garlic chopped, with chopped raw parsley) whilst you are waiting. Butter the bread throw it in the oven for a few minutes. 

Dump your Linguine back into that pot you cooked it in. Spoon out all the meatballs into a nice large serving bowl, and pour all the sauce over your pasta and mix it nicely. Then place a nice large serving bowl on the table filled with your pasta, and the other bowl with the meatballs. There should be enough to feed a small starving army. Grate some parmesan cheese over the pasta for a final blast of flavour. Again, here, I will have to insist that you only use the real deal - Parmigiano Reggianno. Do not use the schwag. Remember - Garbage in, Garbage out.

Get the kids to set the table, compliment your husband on the fine job he did making dinner, drink every last drop of the yummy wine your BFF brought to share and be everlastingly thankful for cousins and friends that sweep the floor and do the dishes before they all roll out the door, happy to have had such a yummy start to their weekends.

Life is miserable for so many people in the world today. Everyone is worried about the 'state of the economy' and the doom and gloom that the next budget will bring. 

It is so important to reflect on the fact that we are healthy, we have a roof over our heads and we can enjoy a lovely meal on a Friday night with our friends and family. What more can a girl ask for.

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,



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