Monday, January 26, 2009

spaghetti and meatballs, done right

spaghetti and meatballs, done right, originally uploaded by aarn! +26th January, 2009+.

not quite the quick meal that mom and dad used to prepare for the peanut butter and jelly kids, or the canned “meal” that mr. boy-ar-dee made so well. this batch of spaghetti and meatballs started from a pork butt, a thick beef round steak, a pound or so of semolina flour, half a dozen eggs, a stale loaf of bread, half a dozen medium tomatoes on the vine, a head of garlic, and fresh herbs and spices. oh yeah, and a small can of tomato paste (which probably wasn't even necessary).

took six or eight medium sized vined tomatoes and cut them in half, down the axis of the stem, then sliced a few times perpendicular to the cut about 1/4-in deep. squeezing each tomato half (like one of those gross rubber change purses), opening the 1/4-in cuts, a mixture of minced garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper, and balsamic vinegar, was rubbed into the cuts and across the halved surfaces. the tomatoes were then placed (cut side up) on parchment paper and roasted on a medium rack in a 200-degree oven for about 2.5-hrs. then set aside, covered.

made up a batch of pasta dough with 1-lb of sifted semolina flour, 4-eggs and a splash of water (to the desired consistency), then tossed that in the refridgerator for a while, and then rolled out and cut into spaghetti with the hand-crank pasta machine. tossed it around in a bowl of all-purpose flour to avoid sticking and then set aside.

coarsely ground a three pound pork butt and one pound round beef steak, making sure to keep it cold up until right before grinding (easier to work with). took one pound of the ground pork and put it in the freezer for a later meal, and a handful of the combination of beef and pork was set aside for the sauce. a pureed half of a spanish onion, four or five cloves of minced garlic, about 1.5c. of chopped parsley, 1.5c. of freshly ground breadcrumbs (recycled a stale loaf of italian bread by pulsing in the food processor) rehydrated in enough whole milk to make a mushy consistency, 1.c of coarsely shredded emmental cheese, an egg, 1T. of olive oil, fresh ground pepper, and kosher salt was added to the remaining combination of meat, which was a pork heavy 2.5-lb mass (most likely). the mush was worked until everything was distributed and mixed, by hand, making sure to not overwork (left nice and fluffy, well, as fluffy as ground meat can be). more breadcrumbs were added to the mixture until it was at the appropriate consistency (could barely hold a ball shape). the mixture was then shaped into fist sized balls and placed on parchment paper in a 375-degree oven, until the internal temperature was around 150-degrees on an instant read thermometer. then the balls were transferred to a casserole dish submerged in sauce and put back into the oven until the pasta was plated (probably about 6.375-minutes).

in a quart sauce pan, olive oil, one half of a pureed spanish onion, and the handful of meat that was set aside, was sauteed with a little bit of salt, pepper, a few bay leaves, and then 1/2 of a can of tomato paste was added and cooked for a little bit. the roasted tomatoes were then added to the pot with 1.5c. of water and some fresh chopped basil, then the sauce was allowed to cook down for a while, then added to the meatballs in the oven.

the pasta was added to boiling water, with a splash of olive oil and salt, cooked, then strained, and put in a bowl and tossed in a little of the tomato sauce, and some of the pasta water. a carving fork was use to twirl the pasta and it was plated on a little pile of sauce on a warm plate with one of the meatballs and a sprig of parsley. after the photo, the dish was doused in a little more sauce. a big loaf of warm crusty bread helped with the cleanup. clean plate club all-around. except for maddie, who couldn't eat her last bite.
[photo: trisha]

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