Sunday, March 4, 2012

Mommy's Homemade Meatballs and Italian Green Beans

I have a secret to tell you.  When I was growing up, my mom used to make spaghetti and meat sauce.  It consisted of regular spaghetti, one pound of ground beef browned in an electric skillet, and a jar of Ragu spaghetti sauce.  My mom was an awesome cook, but didn't really do meatballs.  When I married your father, Nonna taught me how to make my own meatballs, and she introduced me to all the different shapes of pasta to eat!  I have adapted Nonna's recipe to suit my own tastes, but the basic methods used are the same.  You will need:

1 pound of very lean (95%) ground beef
1 egg, beaten
garlic powder, pepper, salt, and freshly minced parsley
about 1/4 cup of finely grated Pecorino Romano
1 cup of seasoned bread crumbs
(Nonna adds some clove powder to hers - just a dash!)

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and spray a large 15 x 10 pan (with sides) with PAM.  Next, beat the egg in a large bowl.  Add the meat, seasonings, and cheese.  Dump the breadcrumbs in a pie plate, and moisten with water until they are soft and sort of lumpy.  Mix the moistened crumbs in the meat mixture, and blend thoroughly.  Shape into meatballs, and place on the baking sheet about 1-2 inches apart.  Bake for 20 minutes, flipping the meatballs after 10 minutes.  To make a simple sauce:  Use a 28 ounce can, plus an 8 ounce can of Hunts tomato sauce.  Add a bay leaf, a nice handful of dried basil, about 1 tablespoon of sugar, two garlic cloves, pressed, some cooking sherry or wine, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and more garlic powder.  Simmer on low heat for about 15-20 minutes.  Add the meatballs when done, and allow to cook through.  Stir gently, so you don't break them up!  I like to serve meatballs now with Penne pasta.  Pop Pop liked rigatoni the best in his later years.  You can used whatever you like!  I like to serve meatballs and sauce with Italian green beans.  Take about one pound of fresh, trimmed green beans, steam them in water until bright green, but tender. Drain.  Melt about 1 tablespoon of butter in the pan, and coat the green beans.  Sprinkle seasoned bread crumbs in the pan until they are nicely coated.  Top with grated Pecorino Romano, or Parmesan cheese.  Cover, and turn off heat. We almost always had this meal before your swim meets or soccer games! 

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