So before I get into this recipe, in case you were wondering, yes, I did change things up a bit tonight with my menu. I am making this today instead of Wednesday because our good friend, Kristin Aschermann, was joining us for dinner and I didn't have time to put things in the crockpot before leaving for work this morning. At least I am still using one of the scheduled recipes :)
I read many reviews on the original recipe for this online- Ina Garten's "Real Meatballs and Spaghetti:"
Ina Garten's Real Meatballs and Spaghetti
She has a show on the Food Network called "The Barefoot Contessa," and makes some really fantastic things. But after looking through her sauce ingredients, I knew I would need a little bit more. Not much more, but since I am Indian and I love spaghetti sauce, I needed more spice. I surfed the net further and found this adaptation of Ina's recipe by Deb Perelman, on her blog:
Meatballs and Spaghetti, adapted liberally from Ina Garten, by Deb Perelman
For the meatballs:
~1/2 pound veal
~1/2 pound pork
~1 pound of ground beef
*I used 2 pounds of ground chicken because it's leaner :)
~1 1/4 cups of fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crust removed)
~2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
~1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
~2 teaspoons of Kosher salt
~1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
~1 teaspoon onion powder
~1 large egg, beaten
~Vegetable oil (I used Canola)
For the sauce:
~1 tablespoon good olive oil
~1 cup chopped onion (1 onion)
~1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic (or more to taste)
~Pinch of red pepper flakes (to taste)
~1/2 cup good red wine (I used 1 because I doubled the sauce recipe)
~1 (14 ounce) can tomato puree (I used 28 ounces because I like more sauce)
~1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
~1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
~1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
~1 1/2 pounds spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
~Freshly grated Parmesan
Meatballs: Place the ground meats, bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, onion powder, egg and 3/4 cup warm water (I used chicken broth) in a bowl. Combine very lightly with a fork. Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into 2 inch meatballs.
Pour equal amounts of vegetable and olive oil into a large 12 inch skillet to a depth of 1/4 inch. Heat the oil. Very carefully, place the meatballs in the oil and brown them well on all sides over medium low heat. This should take about 10 minutes for each batch. Remove the meatballs to a plate covered with paper towels. Discard the oil, but do not clean out the pan.
Make the sauce: Heat the olive oil in the same pan. Add the onion and sautee over medium heat until translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and the red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 more minute. Add the wine and cook on high heat, scraping all of the brown bits in the pan, until almost all of the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, salt and pepper.
Return the meatballs to the sauce. Cover and simmer on the lowest heat for 25-30 minutes, until the meatballs are thoroughly cooked.
Serve hot on cooked spaghetti. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper, Parmesan, and a sprig of parsley for presentation. We ate this with garlic bread.
We enjoyed this. Kristin said she thought it was "Delicious." I liked this, but Andy thought the sauce was a bit tangy. Also, the meatballs were a bit bland for our taste. I realized though that the meatballs were likely bland due to the fact that I altered the recipe so much- I used ground chicken. If you are going to make this, I suggest using what the recipe calls for. You can always doctor the sauce to your taste, of course. I will tell you that Rachael Ray has a very savory meatball recipe that I will share with you all down the road- I really prefer that one, and her sauce is amazing as well.
I still recommend you try this, as it is a matter of personal preference, but I won't make it a second time. It was too time consuming and not that abundant with flavor.
I WILL make this again. This got better day by day, and we ATE UP the leftovers. It was phenomenal. I can't believe what the wine did to that sauce...try this for sure. Andy and I were pleasantly surprised at how it got better. GET EXCITED!
Photos provided by: RennerFoto.com