Wednesday, April 2, 2014

"Spaghetti and Meatballs"

Linguine with Meatballs, with Apologies to Secondo
To quote from the awesome scene in Big Night where Stanley Tucci has to take the order from a woman who wants both risotto and pasta, two primi, for dinner:

        Lady: "There are no meatballs with the spaghetti?"
        Secondo: "Sometimes the spaghetti likes to be alone."

I chuckle about this every time I make pasta and meatballs. But at home, where we have to wash the dishes, one-dish meals are paramount and when we're watching a movie with dinner, a necessity. So, forgive me Secondo, but our meatballs last night were not alone: they needed company! But I say no to spaghetti. I need more substance in my pasta. My preference in long pasta is for bucatini/perciatelli, but Barilla fettuccine is the closest we can get at the two-bit store next to the house.

The tricks for good meatballs are: you can rarely have too much fat, you need more liquid in the meat than you think you do, a little panko does wonders, and only work the forcemeat enough to mix it and no more.

Raw Meatballs
If I say so myself, I make fantastic meatballs. I make so much charcuterie at the restaurant that working with forcemeats is second nature by now and it really is nothing to throw together a batch of meatballs. This is two pounds of ground pork-veal-beef mixture (I wanted ground pork, but the two-bit store next to the house doesn't carry it: the guy behind the counter says that nobody cooks anymore.) with minced garlic, dried basil, salt, pepper, a touch of pimentón, a cup of panko, and maybe three ounces of heavy cream.

I never use a recipe for meatballs: pretty much anything goes. Same for the marinara. I fill a blender jar with chopped tomatoes, some minced garlic, a fair amount of basil, a couple ounces of extra virgin olive oil, and a bit of salt. Blend just until the sauce becomes fluid and over the meatballs it goes. Braise in a moderate oven (350F) for a couple of hours. Timing is certainly not critical.

And Two Hours Later Aftter Braising in Marinara

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