Hello lovely readers! Aurel here again. Sorry I ignored you for the last couple of months, but I was working on my other passion project: pop-up dinners. I’m happy to be back developing recipes, photographing food, and writing again though. My editor and good friend is back too, cleaning up and making sense out of my writing. I don’t know if I have ever mentioned her on here, but she’s the reason why my writing has improved so significantly and actually makes sense rather than being a collection of ideas scattered on paper. Anyhow, welcome back Amy!
I’ve been working on my own version of an Italian favorite: spaghetti and meatballs. I’ve had this recipe perfected for quite some time but never gotten around to photo-documenting it until now.
Spaghetti and meatballs is a dish that you can’t possibly go wrong with, whether you’re cooking for your significant other, your family, or your friends. It’s really not all that hard to make, but you have to do it right. The key is to use fresh ingredients for everything: pasta, sauce, and meatballs. If you really need to cut corners (and we all do sometimes), do it with the pasta. I use store-bought pasta 6 out of 10 times myself. No biggie! But, for god’s sake, please don’t buy the premade marinara sauce. It takes longer to make homemade marinara, but you can make a big batch at once and then freeze it. You will taste the difference; it’s not just a myth!
I truly believe that spaghetti and meatballs is one of the most accessible dishes to new home cooks. Everybody loves it: kids, adults, elderly, men, women, and even dogs. Last time I made meatballs, I accidentally dropped one, and my dog Popsi devoured it within a second. I’ll put that one down as a strong sign of approval.
Anyway, I can’t emphasize enough how glad I am to be back. I’m looking forward to sharing my cooking adventures with you in 2017. I plan to kick off the New Year by sharing stories about my recent pop-up dinners.
Happy New Year Y’all!
SPAGHETTI AND VENISON MEATBALLS WITH MARINARA SAUCE
Yields about 25 meatballs and 5 cups of sauce
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 90 minutes
Inactive time: 75 minutes
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- ½ cup finely chopped shallots (about 3 medium-sized shallots)
- ½ cup chopped celery (about 3-4 celery stalks)
- ½ cup chopped carrots (about 2 medium-sized carrots)
- ½ cup dry red wine
- 1 ½ Tbsp. finely chopped garlic (about 3-4 garlic cloves)
- 2 28oz. cans whole San Marzano tomatoes
- ½ cup vegetable broth
- 2 inches Parmesan rind
- 4 anchovy filets (jarred/canned)
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves (about 12-15 leaves)
- 1 lb. ground venison
- 1 lb. ground beef chuck (preferably 70/30)
- 1 medium-sized shallot, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- ½ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- ¼ cup bread crumbs
- 1 egg
- ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (or pecorino romano)
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
Spaghetti (for homemade pasta see recipe here)
- 1 lb. spaghetti
- 2 Tbsp. kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- Preheat oven to 400F (200C) degrees.
- Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. When the oil easily slides across the pan, add shallots, celery, and carrots (called soffritto in Italy and mirepoix in France). Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid burning the vegetables.
- Pour red wine and let the alcohol evaporate -- this is called deglazing. Toss in garlic, stir, and cook for another 3 minutes.
- Add San Marzano tomatoes, broth, Parmesan rind, anchovies, oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir to make sure that everything is well mixed.
- Bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and let the sauce gently simmer (it will bubble very slowly) for 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine all meatball ingredients. Mix them all together using your hands.
- Shape the venison mixture into small balls (golf ball-sized), and place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, remove meatballs from the oven and transfer to a plate. Add juice from meatballs to the marinara sauce.
- Remove the lid from the sauce, add basil, and simmer uncovered for an additional 30-40 minutes. Then add the meatballs to the sauce, and stir well. You’re almost done!
- In a large pan, bring generously salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the spaghetti for 8-10 minutes or until al dente (follow the instructions on the spaghetti box or bag if unsure). Drain the pasta, reserving one cup of starchy water.
- Heat one tablespoon of butter in a large pan over high heat. When the butter is melted, add the water and spaghetti. Toss and add a few ladles of marinara sauce and meatballs. Mix until the pasta is evenly coated.
- Serve hot with grated parmesan and chopped parsley or basil on top.