Archive | May, 2011

On Memorial Day, Meatballs and Baby Showers.

30 May Plate o' Pasta
Baby Shower

Image by GraceFamily via Flickr

My big sister is pregnant.  Her third, a baby girl.  Along with the blessing that is a new baby comes the obligatory Baby Shower. I generally enjoy showers. The kind that occurs in the bathroom and involves body wash and shampoo.  The kind that occurs in the backyard and involves games, wicker chairs and tulle I enjoy a little bit less.  It’s only May and this was the second shower I’d attended.  The harsh winter of 2010/11 means I will be attending several baby showers this summer/fall. I guess I am the only one amongst my friends/family that enjoys a cup of cocoa and a good book on a snowy day. I digress…

Yesterday was the big day and because she is pregnant and apparently cravings are unexplainable but necessary, I agreed to prepare a few asian appetizers including Vietnamese Summer Rolls, Chicken Wontons, and Lettuce Cups. [I’ll detail the adventures of handling rice paper in 80% humidity because my parents refuse to turn on the Air Conditioner until the devil is spotted swimming in their pool in a future post.] All in all, the food came out tasty and the crowd seemed pleased.  As often happens when I cook food for the masses, I tested and tasted so much of each component during prep, I had no desire to eat any of the completed dishes. On the contrary, I scarfed down a 1 ft section of the 6 foot Turkey sub my mother brought from the local supermarket before I left.

When I woke up today, all I could think about was Meatballs. The kind that are best served in a luscious red sauce over a bed of pasta or in a soft Italian roll layered with slices of fresh mozzarella.  Far left of the asian flavors of the previous day, I guess my cravings are unexplainable as well.



Meatballs and Simple Sauce

1lb Ground Meat (I like a combo of Veal, Pork and 80/20 Beef)

1/2 Cup Breadcrumbs

1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan

1 egg, beaten

Mix all the ingredients together GENTLY in a bowl.  Fashion small-ish meatballs trying to handle them as little as possible. Or not.  Whatever works for you, they’re meatballs not infants.

Saute in 2-3 tbls of olive oil until crispy brown on most sides. The key here is to use a pan big enough that they aren’t crowding each other which leads to steaming and inhibits caramelization. Or use a smaller pan and cook in batches.


Brown = Caramelization

When the meatballs are finished, remove to a safe place to rest. I say safe as meatballs have a tendency to disappear while resting in my home. You may not have this problem.  Using the same pan and a few more tbls of oil, saute some veggies. I used:

a Small onion, diced

a Handful of Mushrooms, diced

a Couple cloves garlic, minced

Again we are looking for caramelization to occur here. That is where flavor joins the party.  Since we are using pretty simple ingredients, technique is important.



Once brown and fragrant and yummy, add 2 cups diced Roasted Tomatoes (Ina Garten has a good recipe here I leave out the vinegar and freeze them for various uses), your favorite Italian herbs (Flat leaf parsley, Bay leaf, and Oregano come to mind) and add back the meatballs.

Let this simmer, being sure to scrape up whatever may have stuck to the bottom of the pan during the prior steps. Adjust seasoning with Salt and Pepper to taste. Serve over a bed of your favorite pasta with more grated parm or in a roll.

Plate o' Pasta

Meatballs and Simple Sauce

Enjoy! Oh and happy Memorial Day.  What are you eating?