Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Spaghetti & Meatballs - A Classic Made Delicious (and why we may need to check our fire insurance)

Happy Tuesday Wednesday everyone (Anyone else been off a day all week?) Thank you once again for stopping by 'Out Of The Culinary'. Tonight was my night to cook - and I chose to make Spaghetti and Meatballs. I found the original recipe from my favorite chef (Mr. Jamie Oliver) but made a few (accidental) changes to the recipe to make it my own.

The Recipe: Meatballs and Pasta (Spaghetti & Meatballs for those of us in the USA)
Original Recipe Found In: Jamie's Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals

What You'll Need:

12 Unsalted Crackers
2 Tsp Dijon Mustard
1 Lb Ground Beef
1 Large Egg
1 Medium Onion
2 Cloves of Garlic
1/2 Red Chile
2 X 14 Oz. Cans of Diced Tomatoes
2 Tbs. Balsamic Vinegar
1 Pound Spaghetti or Penne Pasta
Parmesan Cheese

** Important - Begin bringing a large pot of water to a boil now! **

Begin by smashing up your crackers in a kitchen towel. You want to get them down to a very fine powder. (I received a LOT of comments defending the honor of Ziplock baggies when I last posted this step. Its not that I'm speaking out against Ziplock. They make a fine baggy - I simply enjoy using the towel method. The towel method is just as simple - if not more so - than using the baggy, and this method cuts down on waste. You can rinse out and re-use the towel. For the most part - Ziplock baggies are one and done items.) Add your cracker powder to a medium sized mixing bowl. Now add your ground beef, dijon mustard, egg and a pinch of salt and pepper to this bowl as well. Season with your preferred amount of oregano. Now, wash your hands...because they are about to get really sticky. (Doesn't make much sense does it? Still, you want clean hands before you play in your food) Plunge your hands into the bowl and mix things up really well. Once everything is perfectly blended together begin making four large balls. They should come out to (roughly) baseball size.
Smashing the crackers 

All of the ingredients, pre-mix

(If you're thinking this recipe sounds familiar, that's because I've referenced it once before. The recipe for these meatballs is exactly the same as the recipe for the "Cracking Burgers" that I posted a few weeks ago. The only difference is rather than turning them into hamburger patties, you make them into round little meatballs...tasty tasty meatballs)

Next, break those four balls into six, smaller balls(Golfball size, maybe a little smaller). In the end you should end up with about 24 meatballs. (We got 23 out of ours). Place the meatballs on a large plate or cutting board and drizzle them with olive oil. Technique really doesn't matter too much here. I ended up drizzling a small amount on top of the meatballs and then making a small puddle on the cutting board to roll each one into. The better coated they are, the easier your life will be later on.

Next, chop your onion, garlic and chile. Then - bring a medium sized sauce pan up to medium heat and add a dash of olive oil (listen for the jug to make the 'lug' sound two times). At the same time, bring a large frying pan up to medium heat and add two lugs of olive oil to that as well. Add your onions and garlic to the sauce pan. Cook the onions for about 5 to 10 minutes - stirring every three minutes or so until they are all a light golden brown.

Once your onions are golden brown, add the two cans of diced tomatoes, the chopped chile and the balsamic vinegar . Bring this mixture to a boil and then allow to simmer after that. A simmering time of 10 to 15 minutes is ideal, however, you can just allow the mixture to simmer until everything else is done cooking.
There is nothing really to point out in this shot, I just like the steam coming off the pan. It looks cool. On second thought, that could be the smoke coming off of the jalapenos... 

*** Learning experience of the night: When we were grocery shopping yesterday, I accidentally grabbed southwestern style diced tomatoes, rather than plain ol' regular tomatoes. (Southwestern style tomatoes come with jalapenos and chiles mixed right in (I.E. HOT). I didn't notice this mishap until we were already home. Rather than run out and buy some more tomatoes - I decided on adjusting the recipe to compensate. I skipped adding the chile, as the tomatoes already had one. And, I halved the onions (put in only 1/2 of an onion) to attempt to calm the sauce down. What did I learn from all of this? Read the label. Don't get excited because they are 2 for $1 and plop them in your cart. ***

By this time, your water should be boiling. Add the pasta now and cook according to the directions on the box.

Place your meatballs in the large frying pan. Turning them every 30 to 45 seconds until all sides are browned. Once browned, turn the heat down to low and allow them to sizzle in the pan for about 5 to 10 minutes. Before taking them off of heat, crack one of the meatballs open to see if its done. If you don't see pink, you're good to go.
We lack a large frying pan, so we used a medium and small frying pan...same difference 

Once your spaghetti is done, simply drain the water and serve it all up. Top with parmesan cheese and a little basil if you like - and enjoy!

The Results:
All I notice is the meatball on the left - he's making a break for it! 

Makes your mouth water...doesn't it? 

Tonight's recipe was a success...albeit a hot one.

The meatballs were essentially round little delicious cracking burgers. (Seriously folks, the flavor of the meat is unbelievable! If you haven't tried the Cracking Burger recipe yet - do so ASAP. They are very good. Better yet, give yourself a sample and make up some meatballs like in tonight's recipe.) Topped with some parmesan and a little basil, those little buggers were absolutely succulent.

The homemade pasta sauce, however, was a little bit...flame inducing. Jalapenos are hot. There are no two ways around that. (Thus the reason we need to check our fire insurance, we may have scorched the ceiling after the first few bites) If you like your food to have a little more of a spicy kick - you may very well want to use southwestern style tomatoes. Maggie and I, however, are not fans of shooting flames from our mouths...which this sauce had a tendency to do. The only real fix we can try here is to...well, buy the right thing next time. Cutting down the onions and omitting the chile, while novel ideas, were not a influence on the flamethrower like qualities of jalapenos. The only solution we found was to cover the entire dish in an extra helping of parmesan cheese - that tamed the jalapenos (slightly).

Overall, everything came out quite delicious. We will certainly be adding this dish to our recipe book and we hope that you will give it a try and enjoy it as well.

Couple of quick notes before we leave tonight. Does anyone out there have any tips on buying canned tomatoes? We're looking for smaller, diced tomatoes. We had been buying the Hy-Vee store brand, but they were very acidic and it transfered over to the final dish. This week we went with the Target store brand, and although they weren't as bad, they still had a very strong (almost vinegar like) flavor. I'm looking for diced tomatoes that taste like (crazy request here) tomatoes. Any suggestions? Leave them in the comments below.

Also, if you haven't done so already, be sure to post your favorite homemade pancake recipe in the comments below Sunday's post. You can leave an anonymous comment if you'd like - but please comment. If we receive enough comments, we will share your recipe with the blogging world and essentially make you an internet celebrity...OK, not exactly, but it would be fun to share everyone's recipes.

That's all we have for you tonight. Maggie is up tomorrow. Expect the blog to be up around the same time tomorrow night. Special thanks to Maggie tonight for taking care of the dishes and lending a helping hand in the kitchen. It was greatly appreciated :)

Until tomorrow...

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