Meatballs are an ultimate comfort food. Every culture has their spin on the meatball, and I don’t blame them – they are delicious! Add them on top of a bed of pasta, put them in a sandwich roll with some sauce and cheese, serve them as an appetizer, you name it. You really can’t go wrong when meatballs are on the menu. Pair them with some homemade tomato sauce, and you got yourself a meal.
Originally I was going to make fish tacos for dinner last night, but a fresh baguette found it’s way into our lives and I had to take advantage of it. I thought about doing a variety of crostini for dinner with a salad, but that baguette was calling for something saucy, something that could be sopped up using the bread. I knew I had a large can of crushed tomatoes in the cabinet – bingo. Homemade tomato sauce and some meatballs to go along with it.
This is a pretty simple homemade sauce. Things can be added or subtracted from the recipe and it will still taste wonderful. I have made the sauce without the wine with no complaints. But if you have wine, use it. Then you have a bottle already aerating and ready for dinner. This receipe makes a lot of sauce. You can cut down the measurements if you want, but I recommend making the full recipe and freezing what is leftover. Then you have homemade tomato sauce ready to go next time you make pasta, lasagna, etc.
Add canned tomatoes, turn heat down to low, stir, walk away. When you think about it, stir the tomato sauce. Have your stove set to the lowest setting where the sauce is still simmering. The longer it cooks, the more the flavors will develop.
Meatballs ready to go. I have made meatballs on the stove top, but I thought I would try out baking them in the oven. Let me tell you – the oven method is awesome! It frees you up to do other things like make a salad and salad dressing, load the dishwasher, dance around the kitchen when Beyonce comes on your Pandora station, set the table, you know… all the the important things.
After the 20 minute cook time, the meatballs looked great on top, but a little soggy on the bottom. I flipped them over, turned the broiler on, and let them brown up on the bottom for a few minutes. I left the rack in the middle of the oven so they weren’t super close to the heat. This isn’t a necessary step, but I’m glad I did it. Top with a little parmesan cheese, have some crusty bread on the side and you are good to go.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1-2 teaspoon dried basil (my can of crushed tomatoes had basil in it so I only used 1 teaspoon)
1/3 cup dry red wine
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 28oz can tomato puree
salt & pepper
Heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan (I used my Dutch oven) over medium heat. Add onion and stir frequently to make sure they don’t burn. Turn heat down to medium low if onions start to brown too quickly. Cook for 5-7 minutes until they are softened. Add the garlic and basil, stir and cook another 2 minutes.
Add red wine and cook until almost all of the liquid has evaporated. Add the crushed tomatoes, pureed tomatoes, and season with salt and pepper. Stir, put a lid on, and reduce heat to low. Cook on low stirring occasionally. The longer it cooks, the better it will taste. Try and cook for two hours. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed.
makes 22-24 golf ball sized meatballs
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
2/3 cup milk
1 lb ground beef (I used 95% lean)
1 lb ground pork*
1/2 small to medium onion, grated
2 garlic cloves, minced or grated on a microplane
1 whole egg
1 egg white
handful fresh parsley, chopped
salt & pepper
*Can be substituted with more ground beef if aren’t a pork person.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line 1-2 (depending on size) baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
Put breadcrumbs in a bowl and mix with milk. Set on counter while you prepare the other meatball ingredients. Grate onion directly into a medium to large bowl. Add the ground beef and pork to the bowl and grate the garlic directly into the bowl as well. Crack whole egg and egg white into a small bowl and beat with a fork to combine. Add egg mixture to bowl along with chopped parsley, salt and pepper. Mix ingredients with your hands half way, add the soaked breadcrumbs, and continue mixing until all ingredients are well combined.
These meatballs can be made large or small. I rolled the meat with my hands to a size slightly larger than a golf ball. Roll the meat gently and try to handle the meat as little as possible to avoid tough meatballs. Place meatballs on baking sheet one inch apart. Bake for 20 minutes until browned on top.
Optional: If you wish to brown the other side, turn on broiler, flip meatballs over and place under broiler for 3-5 minutes depending on rack placement. If you do this step, keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.