Weekend Special: Spaghetti Meat-a-Balls ……
July 8, 2011 in Uncategorized
Oh I have had the best of weeks! Having my sister-in-law Brenda, with my niece Jade to visit, is always such a treat. We have enjoyed ourselves sooo much! I am so sad that they are leaving today as I shall miss my little poppie terribly. I am so grateful for my family – really I am.
So what does one do when one’s heart is a little heavy and missing that special little someone? Well – I cook!!! Trickyricky is going fishing tomorrow morning early – so I shall enjoy the solitude by getting into my kitchen, cranking up the music and cooking my heart happy! I have borrowed my sisters’ copy of Reuben Cooks to inspire me. My sis in law works for Springfield Estate so I am going to enjoy a bottle of their best while I cook! I see big smiles in my not too distant future!!!!
Daniele has great hands for pasta.
Today I am posting TrickyRicky’s special ‘Spaghetti Meat-a-balls Recipe” for my weekend special. Friends and family really do beg old Tricky to make these little orgasmic orbs! Like all good recipes – they must be handed down to the next generation! On this occasion Trickyricky and Daniele got into the kitchen together – a father and son tag team …. Daniele lives in Cape Town and on his most recent visit he invited all of his Durban buddies over for a lunch of Spaghetti & Meatballs followed by a White Chocolate Bread & Butter Pudding made with Colomba! This was a great opportunity for Tricky to share with Daniele – so he can make this quintessentially Italian dish for his friends, in Cape Town! Durban is positively ablaze with entertainment and things to do this weekend! I may just head down to Ballito to get me some of them prawns on offer!!! Have a great weekend all!!!
TrickyRicky’s Meat-a-Ball Recipe!
I will split the ingredients into two lists – The Meat Balls and The Sauce.
Before I go ahead I must add that this recipe has evolved – as has Italian food in general.
Years ago when my boys were still little – I would prepare huge pots of sauce
and divide it up into “blikkies” which I froze.
I guess that having a young family means having to go ‘bulk’ and think ahead –
as time is so precious. However, these days we all tend to make fresh sauces
– using more fresh tomatoes etc.
We still churn out the oil-drum sized pots for huge family occasions,
but sauces are lighter and quicker these days –
as we have access to so much more fresh – organic veggies and meat.
Support your local farmers markets – the veggies and meat are awesome!!!
The Meat-A-Ball Mixture
1kg minced beef
3large onions chopped
4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
½ cup of finely grated parmesan cheese
3 slices of bread – crusts off and soaked in milk
½ cup of chopped fresh parsley – either Italian Flat Leaf or curly parsley
Plenty of salt and pepper – for seasoning approx. 2 tsp of each.
Flour – to dust the little balls with – for the gluten intolerant you could use rice flour or cornflower
Fry your onions and garlic in some olive oil until they are lightly caramelised
Add them to the mincemeat with all of the other ingredients except the flour –
Using your hands (clean and washed) squeeze out the excess milk from the bread.
Taste the mixture for seasoning – think of it as a nice big bowl of Steak Tartare!
This is the one area that you can let yourself down on – a lack of seasoning –
lots of salt and pepper and a big bunch of fresh parsley are vital.
This mixture makes approx 45 meat balls!
Wet your hands to prevent the mixture from sticking and roll your meatballs
to the size of an extra-large egg – dredge them in flour
and fry them
gently in sunflower oil until golden brown all over.
Set them aside in a bowl with some kitchen towel in to suck out any excess oil.
Now to make your sauce …..
3 large onions finely chopped
4 carrots finely chopped
2 sticks of celery finely chopped
8 cloves of garlic finely chopped
Dry white wine – I used Springfield’s Life from Stone (yummyumm) –
you will need enough to cover the onions, carrots, celery and garlic in your pot –
probably about 3 glasses.
2 chicken stock cubes
1kg of cherry/ Rosa tomatoes halved and use up any large onions that are
getting a little soft.
1 extra large catering (1,5kg) can of Italian peeled tomoatoes –
place these in a bowl and use your hands
to squish them to a pulp – watch out though – they often squirt all over the place – Aprons on!!!
1-2 finely chopped chillies (add more or less according to your taste buds!)
In a nice heavy bottomed pot – brown the garlic and chilli –
then add the onion and brown
Add the carrot and celery and give everything a good stir to combine the flavours
Cover this with dry white wine and cook off all of the alcohol
Often people ask me how you know that the alcohol has cooked off –
stick you face over the pot and give a nice deep sniff –
the alcohol hits you like a slap in the face until its cooked off
All Italian recipes that require you to brown onion and garlic will have the addition of some wine
– the reason for this is to make the onion easy digestible and to lift the lovely
caramelisation off the bottom of the pot you are cooking in.
If you don’t drink alcohol, use some chicken or veggie stock to achieve the latter.
As for red wine vs. white wine in a bolognaise sauce – that a personal choice. Either one will do!
Now add in your fresh tomatoes and bring to the boil – finally add the “squished tomatoes” and bring to the boil – pop in your meat balls and simmer on a medium heat, for as long as possible –
at least an hour and if you can make these a day in advance – even better!!
All pasta sauces benefit from a night in the fridge.
The rule of thumb with regards to the question,” how do I know if my sauce is cooked?” is –
the oil will rise to the surface of the sauce and be clear and red as opposed to
orange and foamy. Taste the sauce for seasoning and Walla! – Il sugo e pronto!
The sauce is ready.
If you want to serve a great plate of pasta you MUST FOLLOW a few rules.
Buy an authentic Italian brand of pasta – fresh pasta is also fine –
but remember that fresh pasta cooks really quickly.
Personally I really do prefer my pasta “al dente” – which is just cooked –
not mushy and overcooked.
You need to bring a huge (pasta pot) of salted water to a rolling boil –
don’t be tempted to crowd a small pot with pasta –
the starch in the pasta leeches into the water and your pasta
will cook on the outside but be raw on the inside NOT KEWL!!!!
Put your spaghetti into the large pot of boiling water –
one 250g packet of spaghetti will feed four people a good hearty portion.
Stir the pot frequently making sure that each strand is separated –
one of those pronged pasta tools from any supermarket or kitchen
supply shop does the job beautifully.
Check to see if it’s cooked by removing one strand and breaking it with your finger nail –
if there is a white dot in the middle – it’s not ready –
keep testing it and please don’t overcook your pasta!!!!!
When it’s cooked – drain in a colander and return the pasta to your pot –
add in some of the sauce and give it a good stir. Pasta should never be served drained plain,
naked and sticky with a pot of sauce on top –
add some sauce to the cooked pasta – a few serving spoons
will be enough, give it a good stir and then either serve from the pot –
or transfer to a serving dish if you want to –
serve the sauce separately so as not to drown the pasta.
I am generally feeding hungry Italian men – hubby Riccardo –
Daniele and Max my sons – a few nephews and my son’s friends usually
‘PULL IN for a chow!!! – food should be shared with love –
and pasta is the universal language of culinary love –
and you don’t need to get a second bond on your home to be able to afford to cook it!
So invite your family and friends for a plate of pasta and a great glass of wine –
I really enjoyed a glass or ten of this Meerendal Shiraz –
a recent find on a trip to the wine lands of Cape Town this is a perfect
red wine to wash this pasta down with!
(How lucky are we to be able to visit wine farms and buy wine direct)
If any of you are in Durban, and are looking for a great pizza –
look no further than Pizzetta, 139 Davenport Road.
I have eaten there so many times and have never been disappointed.
They make awesome pizza and it’s always served on the double and with a huge smile.
Durban comes alive in July and is bustling with loads of events and things to do!
What to do this weekend in Durban:
The Mr Price Pro – Ballito – I am rooting for Jordy Smith – our local ‘bwoi’!
The Ballito Prawn Festival – Prawns, prawns, prawns!!!
The Durban Beach Festival Bands Playing, Kids Entertainment and Durban’s Sunny Seaside!
Shongweni Market – for uber fresh veggies, meats and foods!
Howick Village Market
Here are a few more weekend specials!!!
This Farmers Loaf stuffed with Roasted Red Peppers,
Zucchini, Onions & Cheese is a weekend favourite too!
Either in the oven or on the braai!!
Click on the picture to be taken to the recipe.
There’s Something Fishy Going On …..
Spaghetti with Norwegan Salmon & Artichokes
click on the photo to be taken to this recipe.
psst: Last night The Prince & Princess of Monaco had a reception at the
Oyster Box Hotel in Umhlanga!!!! Ooohhhh ….
Durban is Sizzling at the mo hey!!!!