Thursday, January 5, 2012


Garlic. Parsley. Cheese. That's a good meatball.

A bad meatball disguises itself as meatloaf. Meatballs should have a certain complexity to their taste, which includes cheese, parsley and lots of garlic. And the mixture should be lightly handled to avoid stone-like balls when cut into. I actually prefer my meatballs served with plain, buttered noodles. But simmering them in a tomato sauce will give an added depth and tenderness.

15 meatballs
  • 1/2 lb. ground chuck
  • 1/2 lb. ground pork
  • 1/3 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 2 heaping tablespoons finely chopped curly parsley
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, pressed
  • 1-2 tablespoons grated onion
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese or similar
  • 1/4 teaspoon all-purpose black pepper
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten with 2 tablespoons milk
  • 6 dashes Tabasco Sauce or to taste
  • 3 sprinkles/shakes ground allspice

Melt butter and add to dried bread crumbs. Be sure your parsley is finely minced. If you don't have a garlic press, finely mince your garlic.

Place all ingredients into a bowl and with a wooden spoon or spatula, begin folding and mixing. Avoid using your hands because they tend to squeeze the mixture. You want to keep it as light as possible. Cover and place in refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 400 F degrees.

Lightly spray a wire rack and place it over a sheet pan.

Begin forming golf-ball sized meatballs by gently rolling between your palms. Don't squeeze. Use a light touch.

Place on rack and bake for about 20-25 minutes. If you are going to add them to sauce, bake for about 15 minutes. They will finish cooking in the sauce.

NOTES: If you sub Italian sausage for part of the pork, omit the allspice and/or Tabasco depending on spiciness of the sausage you are using.

Three-Ingredient Tomato Sauce

Unctuous! Great for bread dipping! Keep the pot partially covered
to avoid "stove splatters." Notice the splatters along the edge of the pot. 

This recipe from Marcella Hazan was all over the Internet when it first appeared several years ago. Most people "swooned" over its ungarnished simplicity and taste. But, there are those who prepared it and voted it anything but "special."

Me? I'm somewhere in the middle. I have a tough time with any tomato-based sauce since my taste buds recoil at acidity and sourness.

So, in the interest of Internet made-recipes, I made it.

I enjoyed it so much, I made it several times.

This is NOT a spaghetti sauce.

It's not going to have a ton of flavors like most pasta sauces, but that's the point. So, move on.

I thought maybe I'd miss garlic, but I didn't. Many people do not discard the onions but blend them in with the sauce. An immersion blender makes easy work of it.

My favorite way to eat this was simply dipping in pieces of torn bread to hold the unctuous sauce.

And, when I paired it with meatballs, it was really all I needed. It complemented the savory meatballs perfectly without stealing the show the way some sauces can.

I've always added butter to my tomato sauce. It just makes it more mellow, and I'm not ready to throw out my standard tomato sauce recipe for the acidic impaired. Or my jar of RAO.

So, will I make it again? Yes, especially in the summer when I have fresh basil at hand.

I love a can with great, colorful graphics.
These are actually produced in Indiana
and get consistently good reviews.

  • 1, 28 ounce can plum tomatoes, such as Muir Glen or Tuttorossa or
  • 2 lbs fresh tomatoes, peeled or not is up to you 
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion peeled and cut in half

Place tomatoes in a heavy pan. Add the butter and onions. Bring to a simmer, occasionally breaking up the tomatoes, and cook for about 45 minutes to an hour or until you notice the yellow sheen from the tomatoes releasing their fat. (I kept the pot partially covered). Remove and discard onion.

I like the onion. A lot will simply 'melt' into the sauce. Some people blend it all up. Some people remove it and serve on the side. You do you.

Salt: If you use canned tomatoes, they may already contain salt. If using fresh, they will not. Add salt to your taste.

(Notes: It's important to use a heavy-bottomed pan. You want a good, constant simmer so the the tomatoes thicken up. Use real butter. The recipe suggests San Marzano tomatoes, but, to tell the truth, I sometimes find them "watery.")