Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Mary's Meatballs & Sauce

I know what Fitzy's going to say when she sees the title of this post...."Mary, Mary, Mary, what about me?!!"  Actually, I am fairly certain that Fitzy has a recipe just like this one.  Mary and Fitzy both have Irish and Italian heritage.  This sauce is classic Italian-American.  It is similar to the Manly Sauce but much less "manly".  I modified her recipe just a tiny bit --used homemade dry bread crumbs with dry herbs rather than an "italian flavored" variety from the supermarket.  I love it because it is super easy and tastes great! 

Mary's Meatballs & Sauce

1 package, usually about 2 lbs., of ground meatloaf mix (a combination of ground veal, pork and beef)
1 large egg
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs (homemade preferred! see recipe here Bread Crumbs 101)
1 teaspoon dried italian herb mix
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 cup finely shredded Parmagiano Reggiano
freshly ground pepper
kosher salt
2 cans (28 oz. each) San Marzano whole, peeled tomatos
3-5 whole garlic cloves, peeled
olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

To make sauce:
Put 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauce pan or pot and heat on medium.  Put garlic cloves into hot oil and saute' until golden brown.  Pour tomatoes and juice into pot and bring to a simmer.  Now go make the meatballs.

To make meatballs:
Place a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan (I put foil and then parchment for easy cleanup).  Put ground meat mixture in 9x13 pan.  I love Mary's use of the 9x13 pan for mixing rather than using a bowl.  I think it makes it easier to fold the ingredients together so that there is no "overmixing" (which can produce tough meatballs).  Mix meat so that no one type is all in one place (you want a little pork,veal, and beef in each meatball).  Sprinkle bread crumbs, garlic powder, dried herbs, shredded parmesan and salt & pepper over the meat mixture.  Beat egg with milk and pour over meat.  Use hands to fold mixture so that all the ingredients are blended with meat --do not over mix.  Form into 1 to 2-inch balls and place on parchment lined sheet pan.  Repeat until all meatballs have been formed.  Makes about 25-28 meatballs.  Put pan into oven and bake for about 20 minutes until light brown in color.  Using tongs, transfer cooked meatballs to tomato sauce and allow to simmer in sauce for an hour.

After meatballs have simmered in sauce for an hour remove meatballs and garlic cloves and set aside.  Pour sauce into blender in batches and blend until smooth.  BE CAREFUL when blending hot liquids!  Don't fill blender jar too full and make sure to hold top down with your hand.  Pour smooth (blended) sauce back into pan and return meatballs to sauce.  Discard garlic cloves.  (This is Mary's recipe and she does not like chucks of garlic in her sauce --keep them in if you don't mind it!)  If you have a stick blender (immersion-type of hand-held blender) this would be even easier.  Just remove meatballs and garlic from pot, go to work with your stick blender and then add meatballs back in.

Meatballs can simmer in sauce for a couple more hours or served right away.  YUM!