Linguini Meatballs


I’ve only cooked spaghetti/linguini with meatballs two or three times in the last 10 years. The dish doesn’t exist in Italian restaurants in Germany and I would be hard pressed to think of a can or jar of marinara sauce with meatballs you could buy here.

Instead, the poison of choice should you be camping and all you have is a can opener and a lighter would be ravioli in marinara sauce. The camping crowd loves it, as do students, little kids and other strange people 🙂

The ravioli are so soft you could use them as brains on Halloween and the mouthfeel is something to get used to. But I digress.

But, every once in a while I get a hankering for good old American meatballs with pasta. Tonight was such a night.

  • 1 pound of ground beef/ground pork half and half
  • 1 can of very good Italian tomato puree (like sauce, but without herbs)
  • 2 Tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1 glass of red wine
  • Salt, pepper
  • 2 Thai chilis, ground in a mortar and pestle
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • dried rosemary, thyme and oregano, about 1 heaping tsp everything counted
  • 1/2 cup of panko crumbs
  • 1 large egg

Combine the ground meat with all ingredients except the tomato sauce, the tomato paste and the wine. Use your hands to combine everything, but don’t overdo, otherwise the meatballs will become rubbery.

Slowly saute the meatballs in a saucepan until they have browned and are half done. Take them out and park them while you add the tomato paste to the hot pan and let it start to color. Add the wine and stir to get all the bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the tomato puree and a pinch of oregano, salt and pepper. If you want, add 2 tbsp of good olive oil. Put the meatballs back in the sauce, put a lid on the saucepan and reduce the heat to barely simmering.

Start the water for the pasta, adding 16 grams of salt (1/2 oz.), wait for it to boil and add the pasta. Cook until they are al dente, take out and put in a soup bowl immediately and follow it by adding meatballs and sauce. Top with parmesan cheese (the real stuff, not the grated stuff that smells like baby puke).

Enjoy. I did 🙂

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Spaghetti Meatballs Tomato Bell Pepper Sauce


This recipe isn’t really extraordinary, but it has a few twists that make it a little bit different.

First, the meatballs were made using veal instead of beef or pork, making a milder and softer ball. I also added some parmesan and a little bit of day old white bread in small pieces. Salt and pepper, too.

Secondly, the tomato sauce was made by combining a can of very good italian tomatoes (Datterini by “Mutti”), which are date(sized) tomatoes with a wonderful sweetness. To these tomatoes I added a jar of chicken stock without salt and two red bell peppers. I used a potato masher to mash the datterini, and smoothed the sauce in a blender once the bell peppers were done. To this mixture I added a Serrano chili, but you decide if you want that heat. All I had to do was to reduce the sauce to make it a little bit more full-bodied. Check the seasoning and put the raw meatballs into the sauce to slowly simmer until they’re done. Add a little bit of lemon zest.

Cook the spaghetti (I like to use the De Cecco brand, they use brass spouts to process their pasta, which roughens it and allows it to absorb more sauce than conventionally produced pasta.

All you have to do once everything is ready is to give it a dusting of fresh parmesan.

The dish itself is a kind of anachronism, because of the attempt to make it as italian as possible, when in reality the meatball is a thoroughly american invention 🙂

Don’t get me wrong: there are italian dishes that have small salsiccia meatballs, but the standard spaghetti and meatballs present on every italian restaurant in the USA is an american invention.

That said, there is nothing at all wrong with that, I grew up with them and like them from time to time 🙂

 

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