Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Alberta's Awesome Italian Meatballs and Sauce

I fell in love with my girlfriend's meatballs three years ago.  She said it was an old family recipe and when her mum made her next visit to Ottawa she had me in to learn from the master.  Alberta is Italian through and through.  Her lively love for life meant that I would get every important detail to make my meatballs just as good as hers.  Her Italian accent was intoxicating and I hung on her every word.

I put a post together as a result of that visit but have found that I have been tinkering with that recipe ever since.  Alberta said she doesn't measure much, so although these meatballs may be a  gentle departure from hers, I feel that essentially the bright bold flavour of the tomato sauce and the tenderness of the ball is very much the same.

I do consistently add milk to my meat mixture to ensure a tender ball.  If I have it on hand, I will stuff the meatballs with ricotta.  I like using San Marzano tomatoes and think this recipe is worth the splurge.

When I made this particular batch, I picked up my fresh ground veal at Nicastro Fine Foods on Merivale Road here in Ottawa.  They say they grind their meat fresh several times each day and that the same meat is never re-ground.  The milk-fed veal comes from a farm in Ontario.

I am sure it would be delicious with pasta. We typically serve up three meatballs with sauce. For us, it is a dish on its own.

This recipe freezes well.

Makes approximately 24 meatballs

2 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon lard
2 onions, diced
1/2 pound ground veal
1/4 pound ground pork
56 ounces Italian plum tomatoes, whole, (2 cans)
6 whole cloves
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper

1 pound ground veal
1/2 pound ground pork
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs, lightly beaten
zest from one lemon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, 3" x 3" cube, finely grated
1/3 cup milk, homogenized
3 tablespoons ricotta cheese (optional)

SAUCE: Heat lard and olive oil together over medium heat. Add diced onions and sauté until soft. Add veal and pork. Brown the meat. Add canned tomatoes. Loosely cut the whole tomatoes into pieces. Add whole cloves, salt and pepper. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours

MEATBALLS: Put all the ingredients together and mix thoroughly. Form into 1 1/2" balls. I was able to make 28 balls with this quantity. Drop into the sauce that has been simmering for 1 1/2 hours. Continue to simmer for another hour until the meatballs are cooked through.

Serve a bowl of meatballs and sauce with a few slices of Italian bread that can be used for soaking up the excess sauce! 

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