Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Meatballs and Pasta Sauce

I made meatball subs for dinner last night.  It was so yummy, so I thought I would add it to the list of ways that I like to prepare venison.

People are usually surprised to hear that I always make homemade meatballs and sauce for our spaghetti dinners.  I will admit, I did use a pre made jar kind for a long time when we first got married.  When I first got addicted to Food Network, I started learning how to experiment with ingredients, and I figured out how easy this is to make yourself.  It may sound intimidating at first, but it doesn't take long at all once you get the hang of it.  And I promise, the taste is so worth it!

Once you buy these ingredients, most of them last for a long time in your pantry.  I will give my recipe for both the meatballs and the sauce, but obviously you could not make the sauce and use the meatballs for sweet and sour meatballs, or anything else that you want to do with them.

I make this with venison (aka deer meat), because we don't generally buy ground beef anymore.  This is another recipe to try out if you're not sure what to do with the venison in your freezer!

1 lb. ground meat of your choice (venison, beef, turkey, etc.)
1 egg
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I use Italian style)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1/4 cup grated parmesan (I buy the blocks and grate myself)
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
+/- 1/4 cup of water (If you are using turkey, you may not need any water.)
olive and vegetable oil

Start with your egg in a bowl, and beat it with a fork.  Add everything else except the water, and mix together with the fork. It may look a little dry, and the breadcrumbs aren't mixing in well.  Add water until you see that it is blending together well.  It should look moist, but not watery.
I use a little scoop to scoop out the meatballs, and then bake a good ball with it in my hand.  My scoop is probably about 1 1/2 in. wide.  Heat your pan to low/medium with 1/2 olive oil, and 1/2 vegetable oil, until it's about 1/2-1 inch deep in the pan.  Slowly add the meatballs.  Keep a close eye on them, and turn them frequently.  When they are lightly brown, take them out with a slotted spoon or tongs, and lay them on a plate with a paper towel to drain.

If you are continuing on with sauce, discard the oil until all you have is about 1-2 tablespoons left in the pan.  Leave all of the tidbits from the meatballs in the bottom of the pan.  That will make your sauce extra yummy.

1 shallot finely diced
2-3 cloves garlic minced (I use a press)
1/4-1/2 cup wine (red or white will work, whatever you have on hand)
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tablespoon parsley
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf

If you are starting with a fresh pan, you can add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to your pan, but if you just made meatballs, you will have your couple of tablespoons of oil left over.  Use that oil to slowly brown your shallot on low/medium heat.  When they are turning translucent, go ahead and add your garlic.  If you are unfamiliar with shallots, they are in the grocery store close to the garlic and onions.  They are really small (which I like because I don't like a lot of onion in dishes), and they are also milder in flavor.  I love them, and hardly ever buy big yellow onions anymore.  What is shown in my photo is 1 diced shallot.  See, it is a much smaller portion!
When your shallot and garlic is starting to brown, crank up your heat to medium/high, and add your wine. It will make a sizzle sound, and will start bubbling. Take your spatula or wooden spoon, and scrape up all of the browned meatball bits from the bottom of the pan.
After the wine has cooked for a little bit, add your can of crushed tomatoes, all of the seasonings, and stir together.  Turn your heat down to low or simmer, add the meatballs, and cover with the sauce.
Put the lid on top and let simmer for as long as you can.  I like to let it simmer at least 30 minutes.  You can serve over spaghetti or any pasta, or do something fun like meatball subs.  I just used an italian sandwich loaf, added mozzarella cheese, and put some meatballs inside.  I put under the broiler for about 3 minutes, topped with parmesan, and served with cesar salad.  It was so good!

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