Real Food for Real Life

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A lazy day (finally!!)...

 Sunday Sauce  with Veal Meatballs
(that's cheese ooze on the lower left meatball)

Have I ever been busy this fall.  A leave of absence from school has been no vacation for this girl, what with coordinating the move for The Caring Closet and getting every thing in order, in addition to all sorts of exciting developments on the home front.  Whew!!  On top of all that I have decided to learn how to be one of those coupon wizards and build our own stockpile of coupon goodies (silly, silly girl).  I did learn the valuable lesson of not trying to shop the ad with coupons on a Friday afternoon (!!), but it was the first chance I had to get to the store last week (a fate echoed this week, although I did manage to get there before noon).

After much stressing, I ended up leaving with an "okay" cart full and a fist full of rainchecks, but my favorite find of the day was two packages of ground veal a bit more than three bucks each (have I mentioned before how I love the Manager's Specials?).  My mind went immediately to meatballs and I decided standing in the meat department what we would be having for dinner on Sunday.

Sunday dawned bright and beautiful, and FINALLY a day with nothing on the calendar.  I did some web browsing to come up with how I would make my sauce using what I had on hand, and since there appear to be about a gazillion different ways, I figured that was okay.  There was one particular link that I really liked, especially her directions as to when commence pouring and drinking wine while cooking (including refills!!).  So, because the nice writer told me to, and because I had no where I had to be on this Sunday afternoon, I did just that!

See what I'm talking about?
Ben had seen stuffed meatballs on some food program that week, and after he mentioned it a few of times (I think they call those hints), I decided to fill these meatballs with cheese.  I have made a "cheater" manicotti before, wrapping string cheese in salami before inserting into the manicotti shell, so I thought I could do something similar here by pushing half inch pieces into the middle of the meatballs..  Wrooong.  When I pulled the meatballs out of the oven ,two had leaked their oozy, cheesy goodness, leaving me to worry that all the cheese would leak into the sauce and be lost.  Well, that didn't happen.  The manicotti had been a short cooking recipe that left the cheese melty and nice...the long simmering of the meatballs allowed the cheese to absorb juices from the surrounding meat, leaving an odd middle, both in appearance and texture.  Needless to say, I now admonish you "don't try this at home."

Despite the meatball mishap, this was a most enjoyable dinner. The sauce had a wonder depth of flavor, and the meatballs were unlike any I had made before.  The texture of the veal made for a very tender meatball, much more so than beef, or even turkey, and the taste was almost delicate.  If you are not opposed to eating veal, give this a try.  If you are, try it anyway, just use your protein of choice; you won't be disappointed.  Please note...this makes a TON of food.  We had it again on Thursday for dinner and I still had leftovers.

Sunday Sauce with Meatballs

For the sauce...
about 1/3 cup diced fatty bacon
2 medium onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. (or more)crushed  red pepper flakes
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp. coarse salt
1 tsp. dried basil, crushed between the fingers as adding
1 28oz. can tomato sauce
2 15oz. cans diced tomatoes, I used fire roasted
1 cup dry red wine

In a large pot over medium heat, saute the bacon until the fat has rendered.  Add the onions and sweat until soft and just starting to turn golden, about 10 minutes.  Add the minced garlic and spices, cooking for another two minutes.  Add the tomato sauce, tomatoes, and wine; bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a bubbling simmer and proceed with making the meatballs.

For the meatballs...
2 lbs. ground veal (or beef, or pork, turkey, or mixture of)
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs
1 cup grated Parmesan
2 cups bread crumbs, preferably homemade
1/2 tsp. each of coarse salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 450.    Mix all the ingredients, except the ground meat, until well combined.  Add the meat to the wet mixture and start mixing everything together...using your hands is the best way to make sure everything is incorporated through the meat.  Form meatballs to whatever size you like; I used a 2 inch scoop to ensure a uniform size; I got 32 fairly large meatballs.  Place then on one (or two) baking sheets as you make them.  Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the meatballs, and rotating from top to bottom halfway through if using two sheets.  The meatballs should be firmed up and starting to brown but not necessarily cooked all the way through.  Drop the meatballs carefully into the simmering sauce; cover and simmer at least an hour and up to two.  Serve over a fairly substantial pasta- I used Dreamfields linguine.

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