Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Joe's Favorite Meatballs
Despite his Welsh last name, my husband is Italian. Even though he’s really only a quarter Italian, that’s the part of his heritage he seems to embrace the most. It’s definitely the food he embraces the most. And although I don’t claim to be an excellent Italian cook like his grandmother and great-grandmother, my version of Italian food seems to be good enough for him. These meatballs are one of the meals he requests the most.
I’ve been making these for years, and I can’t believe they haven’t found their way onto the blog yet. What makes these particular meatballs so delicious, in my opinion, is the balance of sweet and spicy. The hot Italian sausage is perfectly complemented by the sweet red bell pepper (which is finely chopped with the aid of a blender, so you get a bite of it in every meatball) and the San Marzano tomatoes in the sauce. If I’m short on time I’ll just crack open a jar of store-bought spaghetti sauce (I’m never opposed to taking shortcuts!) but I really prefer the homemade sauce with the sweet tomatoes for these meatballs. I know in the picture they look pretty generic, but wait until you taste how flavorful they are! There’s definitely a reason my husband can’t get enough of them!
By the way, it's November, which is National Blog Posting Month, and I'm participating because I'm a crazy person. So you'll be getting a post from me every day for the next 30 days!
Joe’s Favorite Meatballs
1 pound hot Italian Sausage
1 red bell pepper, divided
1 large onion, chopped, divided
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
4 cloves minced garlic, divided
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 14.5-ounce can Italian-style diced tomatoes
1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
1. Halve red bell pepper and discard stems and seeds. Coarsely chop half of the pepper and place in a blender or food processor; chop the other half and set aside. Chop the onion; add half to the pepper in the blender and set the other half aside.
2. To the bell pepper and onions in the blender, add parsley and 2 cloves of garlic. Pulse until very finely chopped and paste-like.
3. Place sausage in a large bowl. Add bell pepper mixture, parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, egg, Italian seasoning and salt. Mix gently with your hands to combine and shape into balls, slightly smaller in size than a golf ball.
4. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. When simmering, add meatballs to skillet and cook until browned on all sides. Drain on paper towels.
5. While the meatballs are cooking, heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a Dutch oven or high-sided skillet. Add reserved onions and bell pepper, season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook until vegetables are softened. Add remaining 2 cloves of minced garlic; cook and stir for 30 seconds. Stir in diced tomatoes and San Marzano tomatoes, crushing the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Heat to bubbling, then reduce heat to medium low.
6. Add the meatballs to the sauce so they can gently finish cooking through, 10 or 15 minutes. Serve over pasta or on crusty bread.