Spaghetti and Meatballs (almost from scratch)

Hey folks… Mike TGBG here… let me first say how excited I am to write my first post for Table 1095!  And what better way to kick off my series than with a sort-of-quick-and-easy way to reinvent the Italian American classic, Spaghetti and Meatballs!  Ok I fully admit it’s not quick, nor is it actually easy… but the results are amazing!!  The only component I’m not making is the pasta, but I would probably would have if I had a pasta machine.

I’ve changed a few things from tradition.  First off, I don’t add any herbs or spices to the meatballs; I prefer just onion, cheese, and
seasoning… the herbs will go into our sauce.  Second, I swap out Romano cheese for the traditional Parmesan.  Lastly, instead of frying off the meatballs on the stovetop, I cook them in oven!

My sauce is very simple, just as the meatballs don’t have too many extras.  I use Roma tomatoes right from the Farmer’s Market, but you can also use canned… in fact (just as I do with beer sometimes with barley and extract), maybe use as many fresh tomatoes as you can buy, but if you need more, don’t be afraid to just add a can!
Ready?  Here we go… just FYI, I did this whole thing over the course of a day between teaching and running!

Meatballs 

ingredients
1 lb 85% Lean Ground Beef
¾ lb 80% Lean Ground Pork
½ Onion, minced
½ cup Romano Cheese, grated
2 cloves Garlic, minced
2 Eggs
Salt/Pepper/Chili Pepper Flakes to taste
EVOO

method
It’s not that hard… mix everything in a bowl!  Feel free to mince and chop by hand… but I’m lazy, and I used a food processor.  Also, be sure to season well!  Mix everything up (I used my hands, but if you’re germaphobic, a rubber spatula would probably work just as well), cover with plastic, and let it rest in the fridge for a few hours… you could probably even go 24 hours.

When you’re ready to cook the meatballs, take your meatball mixture out of the firdge and pre-heat your oven to 450*F.  (You might also want to start a pot of boiling water for your tomatoes!!)  Taking a baking pan, cover the bottom with EVOO, making sure there isn’t so much that the oil pools and puddles.  Roll golf-ball sized meatballs (with your hands!), roll them around in the EVOO in your pan, and then line ‘em up ready to bake… 20 minutes seems to produce a good meatball!

Once the meatballs have finished in the oven (it’s ok if they’re not 100% cooked through), they can rest on the stove top as you build your sauce.

Fresh Tomato Sauce


ingredients
12 Roma Tomatoes
EVOO
½ Onion, diced
3 or 4 cloves Garlic, minced or diced or crushed
Tomato Paste
Splash of Red Wine
2 Bay Leaves
Thyme
Oregano
Salt and Pepper

method
Start by boiling a big ol’ pot of water… Cut out the small core at the top of each tomato, and then make an “X” in the bottom.  Once the water is to a boil, blanch each for about a minute; you’re looking to loosen the skin so it can be removed.  It’s your decision to remove the seeds or not; I like my sauce rustic, so seeds and all go in! Either way, give the tomatoes a rough chop and set aside.  (You can smash the tomatoes finer if you want, however they will break down as you cook them)

In your Sauce Pan (hahaha), drizzle the bottom with more EVOO and saute the onions and garlic until the onions are clear but not
completely cooked through; don’t forget to season!  Add a small spoonful of tomato paste and cook along with the onion and garlic.
Deglaze the pan with the red wine (I’m using the very last sip of a bottle from the other night), and add the tomatoes… this would be the time to supplement with an extra can of tomatoes if needed.

Bring the sauce to a simmer, and continue to cook for at least a half hour, stirring every so often.  After a half hour, add the meatballs to the sauce, and continue to simmer for another half hour. The last thing left to do is serve!  Maybe some Romano cheese on top? Maybe a glass of Chianti?  Or Merlot?  Or how about the Sour Wit we made a few months ago…

Beer of the Month Tasting Notes
So, I’m getting ready to move, which means that my brewing has come to a stand still for the last few weeks… As I’m saddened I’m not brewing, it also means I get to consume my supply that has been sitting around the house!  On tap now at my home tap room, which is basically my keg fridge in a storage room, are ALL the beers I’ve listed off in the past few months:  a light and flavorful ESB, the bold Brown Porter, the fun and sweet Chocolate Beer, and of course, the interesting Sour Wit from January!

The thing with a sour beer is that it must sit and age for a LONG time!  Months, sometimes years… the longer, often the better!  My
sour wit sat for about 2 ½ months, and I’m very happy with the results.  Not bad for a first run on a recipe.  There is definitely a
nice wheat aroma and taste, and the oats lend a good and full mouthfeel.  Also in the aroma is a good earthy spice (from the
wit-yeast), orange and citrus, and of course the sour!  The sour is certainly more in the aroma, than in the taste… that wasn’t what I was expecting, but it certainly works.  I imagine, over time, that the flavor will sour up nicely to match the aroma.  All in all, I’m very happy with how this turned out!

Like I said in January, don’t be afraid of the out-of-the-ordinary in your food or beer!  Order the kidney in a restaurant, and of course, order that bizarre sour Belgain beer!!!

- Mike TGBG

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