Friday, 26 December 2008

Tyler's Ultimate Spaghetti and Meatballs


Wow! Is it Boxing Day already? Poor hubby is back to work and I am home playing board games and eating leftovers with the kids. One of my favourite Christmas toys (keeping in mind that my kids are teens) was Bananagrams, a spin-off of Scrabble, that my youngest received in his stocking. We played into the wee hours of the morning and I am reigning champion - thank you, thank you very much.
Much food was eaten, many naps taken - a very relaxing Christmas indeed.
I hope that you and yours had a wonderful Christmas day - whether you celebrate or just enjoy the holiday.
Tyler Florence Friday has snuck up on us this week, but I planned ahead and made this dish a few days ago: Tyler's Ultimate Spaghetti and Meatballs. We actually had mixed reviews on this dish. I loved the pasta, as did hubby, but wasn't such a big fan of the meatballs. My son and hubby loved the meatballs, however, so I was in the minority on this one. I think that I just don't like big, soft meatballs. I am so used to the way I do them, small and firm, that I have developed a definite preference for them that way.
The recipe calls for 3 pounds of meat - and makes 10 meatballs. They would be the size of softballs! I used my muffin sized scoop and got closer to thirty large meatballs. I still have lots left and they are destined to be pizza topping for tonight.
I would say that for meat lovers, the recipe is a success. Pasta people like me might like a less meat-focused dish. Which category do you fall into?

Tyler's Ultimate Spaghetti and Meatballs
Ingredients:
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 cup milk
4 thick slices firm white bread, crust removed
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
1 large egg
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups heated Pomodoro Sauce, recipe follows, or good quality jarred tomato sauce
1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, cut into chunks
Leaves from 3 sprigs fresh basil
1 pound spaghetti

Directions:
Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil for the spaghetti. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in an ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and parsley and cook until the vegetables are soft but still translucent, about 10 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and let cool. Pour enough milk over the bread in a bowl to moisten and let it soak while the onions are cooling. Combine the meats in a large bowl. Add the egg and Parmigiano and season generously with salt and pepper. Use your hands to squeeze the excess milk out of the bread and add that to the bowl along with the cooled onion mixture. (Hang onto the pan - you'll need it to cook the meatballs.) Gently combine all the ingredients with your hands or with a spoon until just mixed together. Don't overwork or the meatballs will be tough. Divide into 10 equal pieces and shape them into 10 nice looking meatballs. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat a 3-count of oil in the frying pan over medium heat and brown the meatballs on all sides, about 10 minutes. Put them into a baking dish and spoon about half of the tomato sauce over. Shower with the mozzarella and drizzle with olive oil. Put the meatballs in the oven and bake until the meatballs are cooked through, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in the boiling water until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and put it onto a large serving platter. Pour on the rest of the sauce and mix well. Spoon the meatballs on top of the spaghetti and garnish with basil leaves. Serve immediately along with extra cheese.

Pomodoro Sauce:
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes, drained and crushed by hand, liquid reserved
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the vegetables are soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Carefully add the tomatoes (nothing splashes like tomatoes) and about 1/2 cup of the reserved liquid and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the sauce is thick, about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring for a few minutes with a wooden spoon to further break up the tomatoes. Reduce the heat and let simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in the fresh basil and season again.
Yield: 4 cups

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