Photo by Colin Harrison
With all due deference to my Norwegian ancestors (see August 2017 blog: “The Power of Meatballs”), I have discovered a new twist to making spaghetti and meatballs that I can only say makes me swoon. It’s one of those culinary accidents that change my concept of the meaning of ultimate, but I must be honest. I can’t take credit for this discovery:
I’m in Faicco’s on Bleecker Street, the famous destination for all food products Italian, to get ground beef and pork for a spaghetti dinner, as family is coming and I know what they like. The man behind the meat counter hands me two packages, I buy a can of certified Italian imported San Marzano plum tomatoes for the sauce, and head for home to have some fun. When I read the label on the package of ground pork, I’m surprised to find out it’s more pricey than usual, and then I find out why. It’s ground pork tenderloin! Oh-h yes, oh yes! What a difference. Thank you, Faicco’s.
1 large egg
1 medium-sized onion, grated
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Black pepper, freshly ground, to taste
2 teaspoons crushed dried oregano
1 cup very good breadcrumbs (see Notes)
1/4 cup half-and-half
1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork tenderloin
The Sauce (See “Red Sauce,” September 2015 blog)
- In a fairly large mixing bowl, beat the egg well. Add grated onion (including juice), salt, pepper, and oregano. Mix well.
- In a smaller bowl, soak the breadcrumbs in the half-and-half. Moisten with more liquid if necessary. Add to the egg mixture and mix well.
- Add the ground beef and ground pork tenderloin. Gently mix by hand.
- Pour a scant tablespoon of olive oil into a skillet (preferably cast iron for maximum browning) and fry meatballs over medium-high heat. Remove each meatball as soon as it’s well browned.
- Add to red sauce and simmer for at least half an hour so that meatballs will cook thoroughly, become tender, and add flavor to the sauce.
- Serve over pasta.
Combining the ingredients in the order listed (meat last) ensures that they will be well distributed without over-mixing the meat, thus maintaining its texture.
Breadcrumbs: This picky cook finds the store-bought kind most unappetizing. Whenever I buy a loaf of really good bread I freeze a few slices in a plastic bag I keep in the refrigerator for that purpose. When I need some crumbs I cube and dry them on a tray in a 200-degree oven (you don’t want to brown them), then grind them in a food processor.
Step 6. In authentic Italian spaghetti land, one does not add grated cheese to a meat dish. On the other hand, authentic Italians insist that spaghetti and meatballs is an American dish, so I say, do as you please. I like a mixture of grated Grana Padano and Reggiano Parmesan.
Faicco’s says, “You’re welcome.”
May 31, 2018