Sunday, February 21, 2010

No-fuss Spaghetti & Meatballs

Spaghetti & Meatballs Dinner Challenge: Last night I cooked up 2 different Spaghetti & Meatballs recipes, and with the help of my good friend Amy and her family, had a taste test to see which one was preferred. It was a fun thing to do on a Saturday night, and Spaghetti & Meatballs is one of my favorite comfort foods when it is cold and snowy out. One of the recipes was my recipe that I've made for as long as I can remember. The other other was a recipe by Emeril Lagasse (courtesy of the Food Network website). I call it "no-fuss" because it is essentially a 1 pot meal.

I followed Emeril's recipe as written with a few exceptions. First, 80/20 beef AND ground sausage just sounds like a grease-fest to me (no offense intended, Emeril), so I used 93/7 beef. Second, I did add a small splash of red wine to the sauce -- it is genetically impossible for me to make tomato sauce without adding wine. Just can't be done. Lastly, I put a bottle of the Essence seasoning in my grocery cart, but somehow it wasn't in the bags when I got home, so I ended up leaving that out. Other than these few changes, I've followed his recipe below. I have to admit, I was a little nervous about putting raw ground meat into the tomato sauce, but they did cook through and were very tasty.

The final verdict was a draw. Amy and her younger son liked my Spicy, Beefy Spaghetti & Meatballs, and her husband and oldest son preferred Emeril's. Actually, her husband liked Emeril's meatballs, but my sauce better. I didn't vote since I'm partial to my recipe, and that seemed a bit self-serving. So, I am posting both recipes (2 different posts). You can decide which is your favorite. :-)

In the picture below, Emeril's recipe is on the right, and my recipe is on the left.

No-fuss Spaghetti & Meatballs


1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1-1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 15-ounce cans tomato sauce
1/2 6-ounce can tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
salt & pepper
12 ounces ground chuck (80/20)
8 ounces ground pork sausage
2 Tablespoons red wine
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup minced green onion, white part only
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 Tablespoons grated parmesan
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon Essence Creole Seasoning (also called Bayou Blast)


1. Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until softened and translucent, about 8 minutes.

2. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

3. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste and season with basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and partially cover.

4. Place the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix together just until combined.

5. Form meatballs by rolling meat mixture into 1 Tablespoon-sized balls. Place meatballs on a plate as they are formed. Note: To prevent the meatballs from sticking to your hands, wet your hands with water first.

6. Add meatballs into the simmering sauce 1 at a time. Allow the sauce to return to a simmer and cook, partially covered. Let the meatballs cook undisturbed for the first 25 minutes before stirring.

7. When the meatballs rise to the top, stir gently. Simmer, partially covered, for an additional hour, stirring occassionally to prevent the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

8. Remove from heat and serve over cooked pasta.


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