Thursday, November 18, 2010

Spaghetti & Meatballs

Serves  4 to 6
A Big Bowlful
For the meatballs:
1 1/2 cup fresh white bread crumbs (from about 6 slices, crusts removed)
1 large garlic clove, peeled and finely minced
1 tsp dry oregano, crumbled
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 pound ground beef  (80% lean)
1 pound ground pork
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
3/4 cup freshly and finely grated parmesan cheese (grated to a powder-like consistency)
2 large eggs, beaten
about 1 Tbl kosher salt
about 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
vegetable oil, for cooking
For the spaghetti & spaghetti sauce:
1 Tbl extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbl butter
1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
2 small garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup dry red wine (By dry, I just mean not sweet.  Any tasty red will do.)
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
2 Tbl finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound spaghetti (I’m newly in love with this grocery store brand. Choose the thicker #12
   spaghetti, not the thinner #11. )
about 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan (grated on the small holes of a box grater), for
     passing at the table 
For the meatballs:  In a small mixing bowl, combine the bread crumbs (which can be made by pulsing cubes of white bread in an electric food processor), garlic, oregano, nutmeg and
buttermilk.  Stir to combine. 
Ground Pork & Ground Beef
Through the rest of the steps, remember to handle the ground meats very gently – It’s the best thing you can do to insure tender meatballs.  Combine the ground beef and pork in a large mixing bowl.  Evenly sprinkle the parsley, parmesan and bread-buttermilk mixture over the ground meets.  Add the beaten eggs and season evenly with the salt and pepper.  Combine all the ingredients, very gently, using your fingers. 
Using your hands, gently form the mixture into about sixteen 2-inch wide meatballs. 
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes.  Add enough vegetable oil to
come 1/4-inch up the sides of the pan, then heat for an additional minute.  Decrease the heat to medium-low, and then, working in batches of 6 to 8 at a time, so as not to over-crowd the pan, carefully place the meatballs in the hot oil.  Brown them well on all sides, turning them every couple of minutes with a metal spatula.  This should take about 10 minutes per batch.  Transfer the browned meatballs to a plate covered with paper towels. 
Browning the Meatballs
Discard the oil, keeping all those browned bits sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Add the 1 Tbl olive oil, the butter, and the chopped onions.  Season with a good dose of salt and pepper.  Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and translucent, about 10 minutes.  (The onions will quickly pick up a brown color from the drippings in the pan.  This is the key to a great sauce!)  Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute more.  Add the red wine and cook until nearly all the liquid evaporates, scraping up anything sticking to the bottom of the pan, about 3 minutes.  Add the crushed tomatoes and stir to combine. 
Return the meatballs to the pan, nestling them in the sauce.  Simmer over the lowest heat for about 25 minutes, until cooked through.  Then add the parsley and stir to combine.  Taste the sauce and season as needed with salt and pepper. 
Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Then drain in a colander.
Remove the meatballs from the pan and place them for just a few minutes onto a large plate or bowl.  Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and stir to combine.  Then, using tongs, transfer equal portions of pasta to the serving bowls, arranging it in a mound in the center of the bowl.  Arrange the meatballs over the pasta, about 3 to 4 per bowl.  Sprinkle with a bit of grated parmesan, saving more to pass at the table.  Serve immediately.