Saturday, June 22, 2013

I'm Italian (but for an accident of geography)

My (almost) Italian roots


I learned not long ago that my great grandmother grew up in a part of Croatia that's OH SO CLOSE to the Italian border.  So it finally all makes sense...why I'm incredibly fond of Italy and Italian food.  I was raised on it, and -- other than Cajun/Creole -- it's my favorite cuisine to cook today.

So what else to do on a Saturday of working around the house than make a giant pot of meatballs and gravy.  (Yes... I said "gravy.")  Here's how I did it.

1 large vidalia onion
2 carrots, peeled
5 cloves garlic, crushed
Pinch of red pepper flakes
3 cans crushed tomatoes
1 parmasan rind (I had it left over)
3/4 cup grated romano
10 fresh basil leaves (or 1 T dry basil)
Salt and pepper to taste

Saute the finely chopped onion and carrots in olive oil.  I always use my favorite dutch oven, but any heavy bottomed pot will do.  When the onions are translucent, add the chopped garlic and red pepper flakes.  Cook one minute, being careful not to let the garlic burn.  Add the tomatoes and cheese.  Turn the heat to low and simmer as long as you can stand to let the amazing smell waft through your house.  About 20 minutes before serving add the chopped basil.

2 lbs ground chuck
1 lb ground pork
2 eggs
1 carrot
1 stalk celery
1/2 vidalia onion
1/4 cup milk
2 cups bread crumbs (preferably those you've made yourself from day old bread)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 T salt
2 T black pepper

In a large bowl, make a panade of the finely chopped or shredded carrot, celery and onion, plus the milk, bread crumbs, garlic, salt, pepper and eggs.  Mix thoroughly.  Add the meat and work gently until thoroughly combined -- being careful not to over mix.  Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.  Remove, make into individual meatballs (I prefer approximately 2" diameters, but you can make any size you prefer).  Bake in a 350 degree oven -- preferably on a rack that allows the fat to drip away -- for about 20 minutes.  Add to meatballs to the sauce and cook at least 2 hours.

Make your favorite pasta and enjoy!

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