2 cans crushed tomatoes
1 onion, diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
stems from oregano, parsley, thyme, sage (or a teaspoon of each if you're using dried)
- In a large pot, add two tablespoons of olive oil and heat over high.
- Fry the onion until translucent
- Add the tomato paste and garlic. Fry until fragrant
- Add the carrot and celery and cook until softened.
- If using a slow cooker, transfer vegetable mix to the crock pot.
- Add the herbs and the crushed tomatoes.
- Cover and allow everything to be happy together.
60 1-inch diameter meatballs, served 10 people.
1.5 slices white bread
1/3 cup milk
2 pounds ground beef
1 small onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup parsley minced
1/4 cup basil, minced
1 teaspoon sage
1 teaspoon thyme
2 teaspoons oregano
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
3 mozzarella sticks, diced into ~1/4 inch cubes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Make panade: shred the bread into the milk. Let it soak for 20 minutes+ to get goopy and break down into small chunks. The panade is the glue that holds the meatball together. It gives the meatballs moisture and heft. I think it also makes the meatballs more mild, soft, and plyable
- In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, eggs, onion, garlic, herbs, ketchup and hoisin
- Squeeze the bread/milk panade so you remove excess milk. Crumble the panade into a thick pasteand mix into the meat bowl. Discard the extra milk.
- Get your hands in there - Mix around so all the bits are distributed evenly. Add half the salt and pepper, mix mix mix. If you see extra small white bits of panade, squish it some more.
- Feel the texture - is the mix sticky and plyable like play doh? That's good. Does it crumble apart (too dry or your onion/garlic is too big)? Add another egg or more ketchup. Does it drip (too wet)? Add some breadcrumbs or more meat.
- Take a dollop and send it to the frying pan with some hot oil. Make a little patty or ball and cook through. Taste test. Does it need more salt? More pepper? As cooked, is it too "tight" or "loose"? (Tight meaning add more egg/liquid, loose meaning add more bread or meat.)
- Adjust for any additional salt, pepper, herbs, and texture. Remember that the meatballs will be in sauce later, so consider the sweet tangy sauce in your taste test. Don't start rolling until you're happy!
- When you get to a mixture you like, start rolling the balls. I like to take a tablespoon of meat mix, make a patty in my hand, put a cheese cube in the middle, and seal the cheese with the meat. Roll into a ball and put it on a plate for now.
- When you have enough to fill a frying pan, heat the pan with a tablespoon of olive oil on high. Fry the meatballs, making sure to sear all the sides and so they're cooked through (or mostly through.) This step ensures the meatballs stay in their round little shapes when you transfer it to the sauce.
- Transfer the meatballs (not the olive oil!) to the slow cooker/pasta pot. allow to stew together for at least an hour so the flavors mingle and so the sauce takes on the meaty flavor!
- If serving with pasta, prepare pasta to directions, until al dente. Transfer drained pasta to a saute pan. Add in a few ladles of the pasta sauce so the pasta and sauce can stick to each other. Plate and add additional sauce and meatballs on top. Top with parmesan.
- If serving as a sandwich, toast some bread, slice it down the center, and add your meatballs. Top with enough sauce to keep sandwich together. Add some mozzarella on top. Maybe some red chili flakes or basil too.
- If serving as a side, plate meatballs with just a little bit of sauce. Add some festive toothpicks and garlic toast on the side.