From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...This might seem an unlikely choice for a summer meal, but after a day on the water or hiking in the woods, a meal like this really hits the spot. Our older grandsons, who suffer from what we who love them call hollow leg syndrome, consume an amazing amount of food and a meal like this really helps keep their hunger at bay. This recipe is a scaled back version of one developed by Cook's Illustrated and if you have not yet tried this recipe, I hope you soon will. These are some of the best meatballs I've ever tasted and the sauce is wonderfully flavorful and robust without being heavy. Don't let the length of the ingredient list mislead you into thinking this is a difficult recipe to prepare. It most decidedly is not. The various elements of this dish can be tackled separately and put together for a final simmer just before serving. All the ingredients used here can be found in any grocery store and none of them are exotic. I suspect the use of gelatin may be puzzling to some of you, but the editors at Cook's Illustrated explain that it is used to keep the meatballs soft and tender. While I don't understand the chemistry of this, I can tell you that it works. As with all of the vacation recipes I'm featuring this month, the quantities used here can be doubled or tripled if you have a gang to feed. I do hope you'll try this version of spaghetti and meatballs. It really is delicious and I know you will enjoy it. Here's the recipe.
Spaghetti And Meatballs...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite adapted from Cook's Illustrated
Meatballs3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 large eggs, lightly beaten
12-oz. 85 percent lean ground beef
4-oz. ground pork
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped fine
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed through garlic press
1/2 teaspoon powdered gelatin dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water
Salt and ground black pepper
Sauce1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cups grated onion (I used the grating blade on my food processor)
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups tomato juice (bottled)
1 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons dry white wine
Salt and ground black pepper
12 to 16-oz. spaghetti
3 tablespoons minced fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
1) To make meatballs: Place a wire racks in 1 foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Adjust one oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 450 degrees.Combine bread crumbs and buttermilk in large bowl and let sit, mashing occasionally with fork, until a smooth paste forms, about 10 minutes.Add eggs, beef, pork, prosciutto, Parmesan, parsley, garlic, gelatin mixture, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to bread crumb mixture. Gently mix everything with your hands until thoroughly combined. Spray wire rack with nonstick cooking spray (or rub with olive oil). Form meatballs using about 1/4 cup of meat mixture per meatball, and space the meatballs out on the rack as you form them. You should end up with 10 to 12 meatballs. Roast until browned, about 30 minutes, rotating tray from front to back halfway through.
2) To make the sauce: While meatballs roast, heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven or other pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden around edges, 6 to 8 minutes.Add garlic, red pepper flakes, and oregano, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato juice, crushed tomatoes, wine, 1/2 teaspoons salt, and pepper to taste. Increase heat to medium-high, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes.
3) To complete: Remove meatballs from oven, and lower oven temperature to 300 degrees. Add meatballs to sauce, cover pot, and place in oven. Cook until meatballs are firm and sauce has thickened, about 1 hour.
4) Shortly before serving: Cook pasta according to package directions in boiling salted water. Drain pasta and return to cooking pot. Stir basil and parsley into sauce and adjust seasoning with sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Add a 1/2 cup of sauce to pasta and toss until lightly coated. Serve pasta from a serving bowl. Pass meatballs and remaining sauce at table with a separate bowl of Parmesan cheese. Yield: 4 to 5 servings.
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