Friday, March 13, 2015

Spaghetti and Meatballs

I spent a lot of time traveling around Italy and ate lots of wonderful food but one of my fondest memories is walking into a little neighborhood restaurant just outside of Turin at the end of a long day. As I walked through the door, the bartender glanced at me and yelled,  Bistecca, Spaghetti?  That was the choice for the evening. Steak or spaghetti.  I opted for the spaghetti and never looked back.  It was the best spaghetti I had ever tasted.  Over the years, when I make spaghetti I always think of that cafe and the many others like it and think of the generations of cooking that went into that one bowl of pasta.  Each time I make spaghetti, I create a new recipe,  one worthy of being the only pasta on the menu.
 I fried some bacon just for the grease.  It rendered about 2 tablespoons.  I used the bacon for salads. You can substitute oil if you want but you won't get the depth of flavor the bacon grease gives you.  To the grease add 1 diced onion, 4 diced garlic cloves, 1 tsp. Italian seasoning, 1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper and some red pepper flakes to taste.   Saute just until the onions begin to soften. Deglaze the pan with 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.

 Add 2 large cans of crushed tomatoes and 1 small can of tomato paste.  Also add about 2 tsp. of sugar.  Let this simmer while you make your meatballs.

 In a bowl, mix 1 pound of ground chuck with 1/2 pound of Italian sausage.  Add 2 eggs,  3/4 cup of bread crumbs ( fresh if possible), 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, 3 tablespoons of minced parsley, 4 diced garlic cloves and 1 small grated onion.  Form them into balls and bake them at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes depending on how big they are.

 A few minutes before serving, whisk 1/3 cup of cream into the sauce.  Toss in 2 pounds of spaghetti which you have cooked al dente along with some chiffonade  fresh basil. Toss until the pasta is thoroughly coated.

 Serve the spaghetti with a meatball/meatballs on top sprinkled with some Parmesan and more fresh basil.