Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fall's Weapon

This week the girls got together.  Mike, Marty's husband was hiding out in his den.  "Well, there's a game. . ."  he sheepishly explained why he wouldn't be joining us.  He's a guy's guy, and the things we talk about make him itchy.  Too many feelings and talk about "girl things."

We give him a lot of space.  First of all, there was a game.  And second of all, he's one of the great guys in our lives, and there are several of those.  Mike is hero material with a sense of humor.  Perfect.

But we have a secret weapon to  draw men from their lairs:  Spaghetti and meatballs.

We're having spectacular fall weather.  Gloriously warm day and cool nights.  Perfect weather for long, slow-cooked tomato sauce and those juicy, comforting meatballs.

Here's the recipe:

The meat balls:  Buy 1 small tube of hamburger, and 1 package of sausage.  You want the meat mixture to be about  50%/50% beef and pork.  Take off your rings, and use your hands to mix them together.  

Next:  add 1 egg, 1/2 cup bread crumbs (or more if the mixture is really wet and won't hold together,) 1-2 Tablespoons of oregano, 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds- add more if you wish- 1/2 tablespoons of salt and pepper (to taste), 1/4 cup thick worchestershire sauce, half an onion diced finely, and 2 cloves of garlic (mash them in a garlic press).  Mix all of that into the meat.  Form 2" meatballs, you'll get about 16.  Heat olive oil at medium heat.  Slowly brown and crisp the meatballs 4-5 at a time.  I did it in three batches.  Put the meatballs on paper towels to drain the fat.  Work on the next batch, until all of the meat balls have a lovely golden brown and delicious crust.  The crust helps hold the balls together in the slow cooking process that follows.

In a big pot (cast iron maybe-you'll need a lid), add  the other half of the diced onion and 4-5 large cloves of garlic (mashed.  Let those vegies soften.)   Put in a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes, a medium can of tomato sauce, and a small (or medium) can of  tomato paste.  You can vary those sizes if you wish. Add 1-2 tablespoons of oregano, 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds, salt and pepper to taste. ( I used quite a bit).    Drain some of the fat off of the meatball pan, leave a little, scrape the fond from the bottom of the pan and add that to the baking pan.  Add 3/4 cup water and stir every thing to together.  Taste now, adjust seasonings.  Add 1/2 cup sugar, if the sauce seems bitter.  You don't want it to be sweet, you just want to take the edge off.   Add the meatballs into the sauce, cover the pan, and let them cook together for 3-4 hours at about 300 degrees in the oven.  There may be some fat on top,  take that off. 

If you want you can add half a cup of mellow red wine to the sauce, a handful or two of mushrooms, diced green pepper, artichoke hearts.  Or anything else that strikes your fancy.  As I get older, I'm relishing the basics more and more.  So I just let it be.

Make spaghetti 15 minutes before serving time.  Make sure there's enough Parmasean.  Miss Gail said they were the best meatballs she's ever eaten.  The secret:  the uppage of the herbs and the slow, gentle time in the oven.  

I think.

Mike had a big plate, along with two kinds of salads, fruit and green with walnuts and apples. 

There wasn't a vitamin or a mineral we missed. 


  1. Sounds like a fun Girls' Night together. And those meatballs would be tantalizing enough to lure any man from his den :-)