10 February 2013

Spaghetti Sauce and Meatballs


Papa's Favorite Spaghetti Sauce

   INGREDIENTS:

2-12 oz. cans of tomato paste
1 or 2 package[s] of dried porcini mushrooms
5 cups of warm water
2 cups red wine
2 medium yellow onions diced fairly small
5 or 6 good size cloves of garlic
½ to ¾ of a bell pepper – green is best, red OK – diced same size as the onion
½ bunch of Italian parsley, chopped fine
4 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. mixed Italian seasonings
2 Tbs. dried basil (or ½ cup fresh chopped fine)
1 Tbs. dried oregano (or ¼ cut fresh chopped fine)
¼ tsp black pepper
Dash of nutmeg
Salt as needed (there is quite a bit in the tomato paste)
Ground beef –use 1 – 1.5 lbs if you are not adding meatballs/sausage, about ¾ to 1 lb. if you are.
5 or 6 Italian sausages if desired

Preparation:
      Place tomato paste, 3 cups of the water and the wine in the pot and stir it up to dissolve the paste. Add all the dry ingredients except salt. Add the chopped parsley too. Put garlic through a press or dice it finely and add to pot.  Use the olive oil and saute the onions and bell peppers.
      Soak the mushrooms in the other cup of water until soft, then chop them up a little and add them and the water to the pot. 
      Saute the onions in the olive oil in a large skillet until translucent. It’s O.K. to brown them slightly, but not too much, because they get bitter. Add the bell pepper to the onions after the onions have sauteed for a couple of minutes. 
      Add onion/pepper mix to pot and brown the ground beef in the skillet breaking it up as it cooks. The beef should be browned, not just cooked through. Add to pot with a slotted spoon so you do not get excess grease in the sauce. 
      Brown the meatballs in the same skillet. Get them pretty brown, as that will add flavor to the sauce. Add to sauce. 
      Cut sausage in half, so not too long, and brown them in same skillet. Add to sauce.
      Drain fat from skillet and deglaze with a little water or wine – add to sauce. 
The sauce should simmer over as low a heat as you can make it and still get it to simmer. It should simmer for at least 2 hours, preferably 4. Check it periodically to make sure it is not too thick – add water if necessary. 

MEATBALLS:
Ingredients: 
1 lb.  lean ground beef
1 lb.  ground pork
1 lb.  ground Italian Sausage
1 small yellow onion chopped fine
1 Tbs. mixed Italian seasoning
1/8 to ¼ cup finely chopped Italian parsley
2 lg eggs
1/4 grated parmesan
¼ tsp black pepper
½ tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/3 Cup Panko or cracker crumbs (more if needed)
Preparation:     
      Mix everything but the breadcrumbs in a mixing bowl. Use your hands. If you are squeamish, use latex gloves, but you will not get it mixed up right with a spoon. After the mixture is uniform add breadcrumbs and mix with your hands adding more until consistency is OK for rolling into balls. Make balls about 1½ inch's in diameter, again using your hands.  I brown the meatballs in a frying pan and finish them in the oven.  I usually cook them for 20 minutes on 350.  If you cook the meatballs all the way on the stove top don't finish them in the oven.  I just usually cook a lot of meatballs and this speeds things up.  Cut a meatball in half to see if it is cooked.

This is one time baking and cooking at the same time saved me. 
I would have forgot the meatballs in the oven...if I wasn't making cupcakes.  Unfortunately I overcooked the meatballs when they where sitting in the oven while it preheated for the cupcakes.  They were very dry but tasted good when I put them in the spaghetti sauce.


 I had to buy the Italian spice, Basil and Oregano.  I tried to use Pesto and skip those ingredients and it didn't work.   I will put a tablespoon of Pesto in my meatball mixture if I happen to have some in the refrigerator.
 

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