Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Meatball - Perfected!

Years and years ago, a friend's mother, Lucille, a first generation, American-born Italian, taught me how to make red sauce from scratch.  All these years later, I still make it and still think it's the best (I've tweaked it a bit, but it's still basically her recipe).  She's passed now, I miss her and I often wish I had learned from her how to make meatballs too.

Every since then, I've been on an unending quest to make the perfect meatball.  Over the years, I've learned some secrets, like using pork and beef, and freezing the meatballs for 30 minutes before frying them so that they don't fall apart or lose their roundness.  The flavor of my meatballs has been delicious but something about the texture has been wrong.

Roma tomatoes were on sale this week so I bought a bunch and decided to make homemade sauce and give the meatballs a try, for the 1,000th time.  Again, I trolled the Internet and stumbed upon this recipe (I've crossed out the original ingredients/directions and put the changes I made in parenthesis):

RAO'S MEATBALLS (Makes 14-16)
1 1/2 lb ground beef (1 lb)
1/2 lb ground veal  (no veal)
1 1/2 lb ground pork (1 lb)
3 large gloves garlic, minced
Salt (about 1 tsp)
Pepper (about 1 tsp)
Parsley (1 tb dried)
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups water (1 cup)
1 1/2 grated Percorino cheese (1 cup parm)
1 cup plain breadcrumbs (Italian)


1. In a large bowl, combine the meats together and rub the garlic into it.  Press the meat down in the bowl then add, in this order, the salt, pepper, parsley, eggs and water.  Then sprinkle the chees over the top as if you're going to cover the water.  Finally, sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the cheese.
2.  When you start to mix it all together, mix with your hands, from the outside of the bowl to the middle and fold it in.  After the ingredients are mixed, roll the meat into balls.
3.  After your meatballs are rolled, take a frying pan (big teflon pot) and add oil and heat.  Place a clove of whole garlic in the frying pan (pot); when the garlic starts to brown, the oil is ready.
4.  Fry the meatballs, cooking and flipping each side until golden brown, about 4 1/2 to 5 minutes on each side.  Remove the meatballs after cooking and place on a plate with paper towels to absorb the oil.  (You can bake the meatballs in an oven on a lightly greased sheet at 350 degrees - the taste is totally different from frying.)

    (Wearing my Retro Revival 1940's Style "What's Cookin'?" apron)
5.  Add meatballs into sauce and finish cooking them (about 30 minutes).

OMG, I am not kidding.  Not exaggerating.  These are the best meatballs I've ever had!

Finally, I found the recipe for ah-mazing meatballs!  Seriously, I cannot stop thinking/talking about these and have already shared the recipe with a bunch of friends and family, insisting they try it!  The flavor is perfect and the texture!  Oh, the texture is, well, almost creamy!

In case you want to try my sauce, here's the recipe:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 1/2 pounds Roma tomatoes
3/4 cup chopped garlic (about 2 heads)
4 cups diced onions (3-4 medium)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup tomato paste (1/2 small can)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup red wine (or red cooking wine)
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1/2 cups chopped fresh basil (or 1 tbs dried)
Freshly ground pepper, to taste (about 10 shakes)

1.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Place a large bowl of ice water next to the stove.  Using a sharp knife, core the tomatoes and score a small X into the flesh on the bottom.

2.  Place the tomatoes in the boiling water, in batches, until the skins are slightly loosened, 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
3.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes to the ice water and let sit in the water for 1 minute before removing.

4.  Place a sieve over a bowl; working over it, peel the tomatoes using a paring knife, and let the skins fall into the sieve.
5.  Halve the tomatoes and scoop out the seeds with your finger or a teaspoon, letting the sieve catch the seeds.  Press the seeds and skins to extract any extra juice.  Coarsely chop the tomatoes and set aside.
6.  Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant and just beginning to color, 2 to 3 minutes.   Add onions and salt, stir to coat, cover and cook, stirring often and adjusting heat as necessary to prevent burning, until soft and turning golden, 10 to 15 minutes.  Stir in tomato paste and oregano and cook, stirring often, until the tomato paste is beginning to brown on the bottom of the pan, 2 to 4 minutes.

7.  Pour in wine and vinegar; bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits with a spoon.  Cook until reduced slightly, about 2 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and any juice; return to a simmer, stirring often.  Reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are mostly broken down, about 25 minutes.  Remove from the heat; stir in basil and pepper.  Transfer the sauce, in batches, to a blender or food processor.  Process until desired consistency.  For a smooth sauce, puree it all; for a chunky sauce, puree just half and mix it back into the rest of the sauce.

8.  After the sauce has simmered for about an hour, you may need to add some salt and sugar, I added 4 heavy shakes of Lawry’s and 1/4 cup of sugar.
9. Enjoy!

Do you have a delish spaghetti and meatballs recipe?  I'd love to hear from you ~ leave a comment here and you're automatically entered for a chance to win this month's blog giveaway:

Drawing is March 31st.  Good luck!


Megan Carroll said...

I do have the perfect tomato sauce recipe, and my husband has made it his purpose to perfect the meal ball.

retrorevival.biz said...

Thanks for stopping by, Megan. Maybe your hubby will try this recipe?

Laura said...

What an amazing recipe!
I enjoyed visiting so much and I am a new follower.

White Spray Paint

retrorevival.biz said...

Welcome to my blog, Laura! Let me know if you try the recipe:)

Betty Lou said...

Thank you Cindy for sharring this recipe, sounds like a good one.

Classic Style said...

Looks delicious..Yummie
Thanks for stopping by My blog,and your kind words. Have à lovely day/Marie

Anonymous said...

I am going to be trying that spaghetti sauce recipe!!! I'm a happily married straight middle-aged woman, but I think I would love to have a wife like you!!!!

retrorevival.biz said...

Hahaha, Anonymous! LOL! Let me know how you like the sauce, OK?

Donna said...

I love spaghetti and the sauce looks so yummy! I will save it for future use!
Thanks for sharing!

retrorevival.biz said...

Thanks, Donna:) Let us know how you like it!