Friday, 4 February 2011

Polpette and Spaghetti

"Miracles are like meatballs, because nobody can exactly agree on what they are made of, where they come from, or how often they should appear."
— Lemony Snicket (The Carnivorous Carnival)

One thing is for sure. No matter how exotic your kitchen skills get - your family is always excited to see spaghetti and meatballs once in a while. This is take-me-back-home, mommy-loves-me food that is just perfect to soothe a snowed-in mate or child.

Our cooking club is having a meatball party this week, and I went with the classic. They are classics for a reason - and in this case the reason is pure comfort.

As Lidia would say, Tutti a tavola a mangiare!

Polpette and Spaghetti
adapted from Giada de Laurentiis,
Polpette is the Italian word for Meatballs, traditionally made with ground beef, veal, and pork.

1 small onion, minced fine
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
1 egg
3 Tbsp ketchup
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more to garnish
¼ cup breadcrumbs, Italian or Panko
6 oz each of ground beef, pork, and veal

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ batch marinara sauce (below)
1 pound spaghetti

Mix the ingredients up for the meatballs, right down the list and ending with the meats. Form into balls of equal size and cook in a skillet in the olive oil until cooked through and nicely browned.
Cook the pasta until al dente in boiling salted water as you heat up the marinara sauce.
Drain the meatballs and toss them into the sauce to cook for a few more minutes as your pasta finishes up.
Serve on top or tossed with the pasta, add extra Parmesan on top.
Eat and talk expansively.

Quick Marinara Sauce
adapted from Giada de Laurentiis,
(you will only need half of this recipe to go with the polpette recipe, above)

2 28-oz cans of whole tomatoes in juice
1 bunch basil leaves, stemmed
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp sugar
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste

Purée the tomatoes with the basil leaves. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan on medium. Add onions and sauté for a few minutes. Add garlic. Keep cooking until tender. Add in the rest of the ingredients and let come to a simmer. Lower the heat a bit and let cook until thickened, about 10 more minutes.
Can be made ahead.