My Version of Italian Style Spaghetti with Meatballs + Garlic Bread

Try out this recipe for spaghetti and meatballs and you might think twice if you would still need to eat at a restaurant just for this dish. Unfortunately, forgive me my Filipino style spaghetti lover readers, as I only know how to make spaghetti and meatballs Italian style. But even in its simplicity, I advise everyone to take some time in their kitchens to work on it, with my assurance that the results are simply delicious. Yet, I still suggest everyone to experiment (you may even add sausages or different cuts of meat on your spaghetti sauce) and/or try to stick with your own techniques to achieve the taste that you guys might be looking for.

My inspiration for making this might be weird for you guys, but I learned how to make this because back then I got hooked listening to Sunday Morning by No Doubt, where I realized told myself "i never knew that making spaghetti could be this fun!"

This is one of my specialties and I am happy to share it with my readers. Good thing though, was that I got the chance of cooking for my family last night, although I admit it was more of a team effort, since all of us at home were able to provide their own contribution. So I made the spaghetti sauce, Papa cooked the pasta, my younger brother prepared the table, and Mama did the dishes (never really liked washing the dishes honestly, but I know how to of course). It was a great opportunity for me to bond with my family even for just awhile since I have been so busy with different activities at work and chocolate truffle business. So make this dish with lots of effort and lots and lots more of love!

I divided the recipe into three separate recipes: for the meatballs, the marinara sauce, and the garlic bread. I preferred not to include how to cook the pasta because it couldn't be easier to follow a set of instructions based on your preferred pasta. Just a few tips though, is to cook it in boiling water which should be as salty as seawater, make sure not to overcook them to maintain that al dente bite to it, and do not throw away your pasta water just yet, because you will be needing some to make the marinara sauce.

Below is basically the things you will need plus a few basics from your kitchen cupboard such as red wine, herbs and spices.

Italian Style Spaghetti with Meatballs and Garlic Bread
(serves 5 to 7)

Part I: Meatballs
250g ground beef sirloin
1 pc medium onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried or 1 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp. dried or 2 tbsps. fresh basil, chopped
1/2 c. fresh or store-bought breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 pc. fresh egg

Mix everything with your clean hands and roll them into size of fairly large balls. You may substitute the meat with any ground meat such as chicken, pork or lamb. Set aside.

Part II: Marinara Sauce
2 pcs. onions, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. red wine
4 tbsps. tomato paste
1 large can of diced tomatoes
1 can whole mushrooms
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. dried basil
2 tbsps. fresh basil chopped
1/2 c. pasta water
3 tbsps. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

Before making the base for the sauce you must panfry the meatballs with some oil on a fairly high heat (making sure that there is enough oil) until it just gets its brown outside crust but not entirely cooked. Using the same pan, take off  the excess oil but leave the dark crusty bits that's left. This is called Fond, and unless your pan gets all dark and brunt, anything that's left from the pan has got to have lots of flavor. Lower the heat down to medium high, and put in the onions and garlic together and just until it starts to caramelize, hit it with red wine and let the alcohol evaporate until it gets all sticky and sweet, as seen on the image above.

I usually add the tomato paste right after, since I want to make sure to cook it through since the paste is all concentrated. This also gives a rich red color to the sauce, so make sure to heat it through. Then I add the mushrooms to give them a bit of brown color before I add in the canned diced tomatoes. 

Trying to get all the yummy bits that I might have missed out from the pan, I then transfer the sauce to a pot to simmer. Then I place about 1 cup of of pasta water on the pan where the sauce was initially cooked to make sure that all the thick tomato-ey goodness is all transferred to the pot. 

Then you chop some basil into julienne and add in the herbs, sugar and S&P to taste. And then you put in all the meatballs and let it simmer for 20 to 25 minutes on low heat to get that meaty goodness. Make sure to mix them at times to prevent the sauce from sticking to the pot.

Note: Pasta water contains starch that was left so it helps thicken the sauce while it simmers. But if you want it to have that silkiness and depth of flavor, simply put in a tablespoon of cold butter to mix on the hot simmering sauce until it melts. Ooh la la!

Part III: Easy Garlic Bread
1/2 loaf of French baguette
1/2 stick of salted butter
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsps. dried or 2 tbsps. fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp. dried or 1 tbsps. fresh basil, finely chopped


I LOVE garlic bread SO MUCH, especially when you use an authentic french baguette with a floury crust. I only like making this using a store bought baguette either from The French Baker and/or Cafe France; (which used to be DeliFrance) and you wont get the same texture of the bread if you buy them at any other supermarket. 

Starting off with the garlic butter, mix in the butter with the garlic and spices (you can see my related post on other flavored butter inspirations you might want to try) until everything gets incorporated. Make sure to use a softened butter, one that's being left for at least 10 to 15 minutes on room temperature so you won't have a hard time mixing everything together.

Anyway, I learned this buttered bread technique from watching "Mad Hungry", a cooking show hosted by Lucida Scala Quinn on the Lifestyle Network, so I hope that this works for me. So what I did (and imitated) was use half of the baguette and sliced it into one inch pieces but I did not slice it through; so it was more of scoring the bread rather than separating them right away. I then opened them up (as seen below) and smeared the mixed garlic flavored butter in between each interior. According the Lucida, as it heats in the oven, results will be an even buttered garlic bread on both sides. I find this definitely easy without the hassles on spreading the butter on each bread one by one on both sides.

So yeah, this is how it looks like after:

And this is how it looked like after it gets a quick visit on our toaster. They didn't last long, really, as this is best eaten warm. It's a marriage between a crunchy bread and a soft buttery bread with garlic, parsley and basil bits all exploding on your mouth :)

I only spent P100 for a loaf of homemade garlic bread.
Compare that to 7 garlic bread slices worth P15.00 if you buy it in a bakery of cafe.

I never really got to take pictures of how the pasta and sauce where mixed altogether, but my only instruction would just be to mix it altogether (obviously).

And voila, as I usually hear the Italians on TV, "espegeteh-wid----dahhh---meatballs". Top it with chopped basil, drizzled olive oil, and shavings of parmegiano reggiano. Serve it with dried chili flakes and.or tabasco, and serve!

Time checked to finish meal: 30 minutes (in 2 small batches). I was tired from cooking! Don't get me wrong :)

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