These are my favorite meatballs. Hands down. I prefer to serve them in meatball sandwhiches, but they are great on their own or on pasta, of course. The raisins and pine nuts give them more complexity than typical meatballs and lighten them up so that they become a great pairing for our 2009 Parsons' Ridge Pinot Noir.
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Frankies Spuntino Meatball
These are absolutely amazing meatballs, and ever since a friend asked me for my meatball recipe I have been craving them.
4 slices bread (2 packed cups worth)
2 pounds 10% fat ground beef
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano, plus 1 cup for serving
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 pine nuts
1 and 1/2 teaspoons fine seas salt
15 turns white pepper
4 large eggs
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
1. Heat the oven to 325. Put fresh bread in bowl, cover it with water and wring out bread, then crumb;e and tear it in tiny pieces (Personally, I skip this step and just use a few cups of breadcrumbs at the end. But I am lazy).
2. Combine bread with all the remaining ingredients except tomato sauce in a medium mixing bowl, adding them in the order listed. Add the dried crumbs last to adjust for wetness: this mixture should be moist wet, not sloppy wet.
3. Shape meat mixture into handball-sized meatballs and space them evenly on a parchment covered baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Meatballs will be firm but still juicy and gently yielding when they're cooked through.
4. Meanwhile, heat tomato sauce in a saute pan large enough to accommodate the meatballs comfortably.
5. Dump the meatballs into the pan of sauce and nudge the heat up ever so slightly. Simmer the meatballs for a half an hour or so (this isn't one of those cases where better if longer) so they soak up the sauce. Keep them there until it is time to eat.
Since it is referred to above. This is simple and I really like it, but if you follow directions it will take almost 5 hours.
Makes about 3 quarts
1 cup olive oil
12 cloves garlic
Four 28-ounce (or one 96-ounce) cans Italian tomatoes
Large pinch of red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1. Combine the olive oil and garlic in a large deep saucepan and cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring or swirling occasionally, until the garlic is deeply colored--striations of deep brown running through the golden cloves--and fragrant. If the garlic start to smell acrid or sharp or is taking on color quickly, pull the pan off the stove and reduce heat.
2. While garlic is getting golden, deal with the tomatoes: Pour them into a bowl and crush them with your hands. We like to pull our the firmer stem end from each of the tomatoes as we crush them and discard those along with the basil leaves that are packed in the can.
3. When the garlic is just about done, add the red pepper flakes to the oil and cook them for 30 seconds or a minute, to infuse the flavor and spice into the oil (this sauce really isn't hot). Dump in the tomatoes, add the salt and stir well. Turn the heat up to medium, get the sauce simmering at a gentle pace, not aggressively, and simmer for 4 hours. stir it from time to time. Mother it a bit.
4. Salt to taste. The sauce can be cooked with meat at this point, or stored, covered in the fridge for at least 4 days, or frozen for up to a few months.
Photos courtesy of Stacey Snacks.