Sunday, April 10, 2011
Spaghetti and Meatballs
This is what spaghetti tastes like to me. My mom used this recipe and my grandma gave it to her. My mom used to call it Mama Marcellino’s recipe with a fake Italian accent. Our name might have been Marcellino, but there’s not a drop of Italian blood in us. We’re Portuguese, and before Ellis Island it was spelled Marcelino, which is a very common name in Lisbon. So I don’t know where this recipe originated before my grandmother, but it certainly wasn’t old world Italy.
Both my sisters use this recipe now, too, but none of us Marcellino women make it exactly the same. I’ve probably changed it the most, substituting breadcrumbs for the slices of bread, turkey for beef, and add quite a bit more seasoning. The version below is my take on it, as I don’t think I even have the original recipe anymore. I usually serve it with Barilla Plus Thin Spaghetti. I’m a huge fan of Barilla. They’re not joking when they say it’s perfect every time. Is it as good as homemade past—no—but as far as boxed grocery store varieties go, they’re the clear winner. It’s also the only whole grain/omega 3 pasta that doesn’t taste like cardboard.
For the meatballs:
1 lb ground turkey (I like Butterball best)
1 cup bread crumbs (plain is fine, but I use Progresso Garlic and Herb)
½ cup grated or shredded good quality parmesan (I grew up on the Kraft powder stuff, which works in the meatballs, but the good stuff adds a lot of flavor)
1 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder (you can use fresh, but I actually prefer the powder in this instance)
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Essentially just dump everything in a large mixing bowl, then mush it all up with your hands. You can use a spoon, but you’re going to have to roll them up anyway, so there’s no avoiding getting your hands dirty, but you can avoid getting the spoon dirty. Grease a broiler pan and set your oven to high broil. My mom always left the oven door open when she broiled, but I don’t and I’ve never burned up my oven. Roll the meatballs as fat or small as you like and place them on the greased pan. Broil them for around 20 minutes, but watch them like a hawk or you’ll burn them. It helps if you turn them half way through, but not absolutely necessary. Basically you’re looking for them to just be cooked through with a bit of browning on the top. They’re going to simmer in the sauce for a while, so the danger is more overcooking them.
For the sauce:
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (with our without Italian seasoning, doesn’t matter)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1-2 teaspoons salt (to your taste)
½ teaspoon pepper
½ to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (I like it spicy)
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 bay leaf
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
Heat oil in a large skillet, and add the onion and garlic. Cook until slightly browned. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add the meatballs and simmer another 30 minutes. Remove bay leaf and serve.