Sunday, January 30, 2011

Calabrian Spaghetti and Meatballs

Tonight was going to be taco night, but in the middle of the grocery store, Michael declared his dislike for tacos, and so we compromised on spaghetti.

In investigating my My Calabria cookbook, I found a recipe for a basic tomato sauce and a recipe for pork meatballs, both of them being rather quick.  As usual, I didn't have everything that the recipes required, so I did some adapting: rosemary in place of parsley and beef in place of pork, both substitutions in the meatballs.

First I made the sauce.  It is quite like Marcella's tomato sauce, but Rosetta asks for fresh torn basil (which I had just enough of) and a halved hot pepper.  It took a whole 10 minutes to get in the pan and simmered down.

fresh tomato sauce

Making the meatballs was a matter of dumping everything in a bowl and mixing it with my hand: ground round, freshly grated Parmesan (instead of pecorino), salt, fresh cracked pepper, chopped fresh rosemary, an egg, and fine breadcrumbs (homemade would be so much better, but I didn't have any).  Here they are, rolled and ready to go in the skillet.  I actually froze most of them for future dinners, since Michael and I would never eat this many (and I cut the recipe by a third).

Calabrian meatballs

After browning the meatballs, I poured the tomato sauce back into the skillet, without draining the olive oil or fat the balls browned in, and simmered it all for about 10 minutes.  I then tossed it all in a pasta bowl, and this is what we got:

Calabrian spaghetti and meatballs served American style

My thoughts? I am truly falling in love with Italy.  And I really want to hang out with Rosetta.  I didn't serve this meal in the Italian style: serving the meatballs separately from the pasta in two different courses.  I was completely American and tossed it all together.  But all the same, it was absolutely fantastic.

My mental notes? I actually really loved the rosemary in the meatballs.  I was a little worried about it competing with the basil, but it worked really well.  A flaw, though, was I should have drained the fat from the meatballs.  I liked the beefy hint that the sauce got from the fat, but there was a little too much of an oily feeling on the tongue.  I think Rosetta said to drain them, but I forgot.  Oops.  Oh, well.  Next time.  Because there definitely will be a next time.  Mmmmmmm...

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