Thursday, October 16, 2014

#TBT - You Get No Bread With One Meatball

Columbus Day has come and gone, Monday of this week, and I could not help but notice that it is no longer politically correct to celebrate the birth of the man who is credited with discovering America.  I just hope that doesn't mean an end to all of the Italian food specials that invariably show up at that time.

I love Italian food.  It is as much a part of my culinary heritage as chopped liver and potato kugel.  Growing up in Flatbush in the fifties and sixties, there really was no difference between Italian Catholic families and us Russian Jewish families, and it was the late comedian and actor, Dom DeLuise, who reinforced this point, writing "the Jews had matzo balls, and we had meatballs."  For me, cooking Italian is instinctive.  Maybe I should call these instinctive meatballs.  Never mind.  I also love to make Jewish sweet and sour meatballs, Swedish meatballs, tiny meatballs for Italian wedding soup, and you get the idea.

"You Get No Bread With One Meatball" Meatballs  

The waiter hollered down the hall:
You get no bread with your one meat ball.

Little man felt so very bad,
One meat ball is all he had.
And in his dreams he can still hear that call
You get no bread with your one meat ball.

Oh, but what a meatball!

3 1/2 - 3 3/4 pound ground beef (I use Publix market beef or you can use ground round)
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/2 cup cornflake crumbs
2 tablespoons granulated garlic
2 tablespoons parsley flakes
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
1 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon Hungarian sweet paprika
1 tablespoon coarse black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
crushed red pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons ground mustard
1/2 cup ketchup
4-26 oz. cans Hunt's garlic and herb pasta sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and lightly spray the bottom of two casserole dishes, preferably the aluminum 9x13 size with deep sides.

Loosen up the ricotta by mixing it with the eggs.  Then combine all the ingredients except for the pasta sauce, in a very large bowl, take off your rings, and start mixing.  When everything is well mixed, take a small portion of the meat, form a very small patty and cook it in a pan.  Taste the cooked meat and make any seasoning adjustments to the meat mixture in the bowl.

Using a 3/4 cup measure, divide the meat into 16 portions.  Form the meatballs, and place eight in each of the prepared pans.  Place in the oven, uncovered, for 15 minutes.  Remove, carefully turn the meatballs over, and return to the oven for another 15 minutes.

While the meatballs are baking, heat the pasta sauce.  Ladle half the sauce into each pan of baked meatballs, cover with aluminum foil, lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees, and return the pans to the oven for 45 minutes.  Check for doneness with a thermometer - it should register 165 degrees internal temperature.  Add more time as needed to finish the meatballs.

Then eat your one meatball with as much bread as you like ... garlic bread for me.

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