Thursday, August 22, 2013

Mama Mia!

Once we were off the cleanse and had slowly re-introduced "forbidden foods" it was time to indulge a bit. We hadn't had any pasta for quite some time and we hadn't had spaghetti and "meatballs" for ages and ages so I got myself to work.

I've tried many different recipes for home made "meatballs" over the years with varying success. Some had great flavour, but the texture was too mushy. Some were firm, but didn't taste that great. Then one day, I made a terrific batch and they've been my "go to" ever since. They're from Bryanna Clark Grogan's book, "Nonna's Italian Kitchen."

At first I thought it would be a lot of work because these meatballs are a combination of Byanna's burger-mix recipe and her Italian sausage recipe. But everything basically got measured and dumped together. The balls are shaped and steamed first. I did up to this point earlier in the day and refrigerated the balls for frying later.

After a few rolls around in the frying pan to get some colour on them, these puppies were ready. These are so flavourful and have a nice firm, "meaty" texture. They'd be good for making a "meat"ball sub and of course, they're great with pasta which I served with my standard marinara-type sauce that I zinged up a little. Delizioso!

Try as I might, I couldn't find the meatball recipe on-line and don't want to post without the author's permission. I can share my recipe for the sauce though!

Carrie's Pasta Sauce

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup dry red wine
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. brown rice syrup (optional)
½ cup fresh basil or to taste

Heat olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan. Add onion and sauté until translucent. Add garlic and sauté for another minute or two until garlic is really fragrant. Pour in red wine and let the alcohol boil off as you stir up all browned bits from the bottom (called deglazing). When the wine had reduced, add tomatoes, bay leaf, oregano, salt and pepper,  and optional brown rice syrup. (This little bit of sweet helps to cut the acid of the tomatoes and really brings out the flavour. It’s not necessary by any means, but if you find your sauce tastes a bit acidy then try it! I’ll sometimes add it, sometimes not). Simmer for 30-45 minutes until sauce has thickened. Turn off heat, stir in fresh basil. Let sit for 5 minutes, taste and adjust seasonings.

For a bit more kick to your sauce, making it more or an arribiata type – add  ¼ - ½ tsp. red pepper flakes to the onions just after they start to turn translucent.

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