Main Courses

Meatballs in tomato sauce by Anjuli

Posted on 02-08-11 · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Meatballs

Meatballs in my family make their own meal. They’re palm-sized and ever so tender nestled in tomato sauce with rarely a carb in sight. You could bake them in the oven – yea you could – but we like them simmered until they are just barely held together. Mom recently bought half a whole hog which she split with her good friend Priscilla who lives up the road. They’ll be cooking everything save a few offal, including the head, which are illegal to ship outside state lines. She’s still waiting on the cured bits, but ground pork, raw sausage and chops have graced our table in the last few weeks. It’s damn good pork, out of a small farm in Maine. Today we broke out the ground pork and some grass fed beef.

A bowl appeared and in went oregano, some nutmeg, cinnamon, a little fennel, some sweet smoky paprika from Spain, garlic, minced fresh cilantro (I know it sounds weird but just try it, Ok?), a few good eggs and wine from an opened bottle of Montepulciano. As we massaged the meat with the herbs and spices I tried to recall the last time I’ve had meatballs. I still can’t and I don’t know why.

Lately we have been poked and prodded, pricked and sized at every conceivable doctor and specialist’s office to make sure all our parts are in working order for our travels. We’re headed to Peru in under a month. And in addition to wearing ugly cotton gowns we’ve been packing and researching and getting our kit together. Meatballs, unlike spreadsheets, are wonderfully imperfect circles. Naturally, they’re a good complement to regimented tasks. Hearty meatballs, big or small, also go well with new adventures and snowed in afternoons. They are perfect served up to old friends and equally so as offerings to new ones. As it so happens, meatballs also pair well with these gramps shades that Matt picked up at the optometrist. Meatballs are plump little gifts from the food gods. So find some meat to savor and serve ‘em up for all to enjoy.

Grandpa shades

Meatballs
2 1/2 lbs of beef and/or pork, preferably Organic and/or free range
1/2 vidalia or other sweet, large onion, 1/4″ diced
1 1/2 cups garlic herb bread crumbs (see below)
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seed
1 teaspoon smoky paprika
1 tablespoon dried oregano, crushed
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup lightly packed cilantro or flat leaf parsley leaves, minced
10 grinds black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup good dry red wine
1 quart tomato sauce (see below

Break up the beef and/or pork with your fingers in a large bowl. Add the breadcrumbs, along with all other ingredients except the eggs and wine. Mix together with your hands or a fork. Add the eggs and mix thoroughly. Add the wine and mix until moist but not wet. Grab a good handful of the mixture and form into a ball, rolling around in your hands and pressing gently. Place on a plate or baking sheet. Repeat.

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan on medium. Once hot, lower the meatballs gently into the pan. Pan sear for 5 minutes then turn over gently, one at a time and sear another five minutes. Meanwhile, get the tomato sauce ready on medium low in a dutch oven or large pan with lid. Add the meatballs and cover each with some of the sauce. Simmer on low to medium low, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and serve.

Meatballs in tomato sauce

Tomato sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 vidalia or other sweet, large onion, 1/2″ diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, washed, peeled and grated
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seed
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1 tablespoon dried oregano, crushed
10 grinds fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 cans 28 oz whole peeled tomatoes, squashed with your hands in a bowl and stems removed
1 1/2 tablespoons capers, preferably packed in salt, rinsed and chopped
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (optional)

Heat the olive oil on medium in a large pot. Once hot, add the onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and carrot and saute a few minutes more. Add the fennel seed, thyme and oregano and saute a few minutes more. Add the tomatoes, 1 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Bring up boil and turn down to simmer for 30 minutes. Add the chili pepper. Taste. Adjust seasonings. Remove from heat or transfer to a dutch oven (or large pan) to saute meatballs.

Herbed bread crumbs
2 cups good sourdough, cubed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano, crushed
10 grinds black pepper

Preheat oven to 325F. Toss the bread in the olive oil and bake in the oven 10 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the garlic with the salt, pepper and oregano in a large bowl. Remove the bread from the oven, toss in with the garlic oregano mix and dump back out on the cookie sheet. Bake another 10 minutes, until mostly dried out. Transfer the cubed bread and garlic oregano mix to a blender. Grind or chop until the size of breadcrumbs, making sure to stir for even grit.

  1. Spicy Tuscan soup
  2. Carl Warner’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
  3. Mom’s Uruguayo Pot Roast
  4. Mushroom barley and chicken soup
  5. Grill marks

  1. Tweets that mention Meatballs in tomato sauce | A Smart Mouth -- Topsy.com wrote:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Caterham Business, Anjuli Ayer. Anjuli Ayer said: Meatballs in tomato sauce – http://blog.asmartmouth.com/2011/02/08/meatballs-in-tomato-sauce/ [...]

    February 8th, 2011 at 11:42 pm
  2. David Leach wrote:

    We made this last weekend and loved it so much that we are serving it to guests this weekend. Best meatballs ever! Cinnamon and Nutmeg YumYum.

    April 12th, 2011 at 10:25 am
  3. Molly C wrote:

    This is early in the morning here, like real early! – and I feel like cooking up a storm – magic food. You are ace and, you ‘understand’ food and, understand Indian food. Good job.

    April 8th, 2012 at 8:18 pm

What do you think?