I cannot count the number of times that I have made meatballs. It feels a little cheeky to even write a post about this. I mean, doesn’t everyone know how to make meatballs? And are these the BEST EVER? No. I have made them so many times that I don’t even follow a recipe. I just throw a bunch of stuff in a bowl and go with it.
These meatballs were no different. I had intended to actually follow the recipe in Tony Chachere’s Cajun Country Cookbook, the recipe that my grandmother always used, and that I started using a million years ago. Nope. I opened the freezer to find that I had one ziplock of meat mix that really needed to be used, so I started with that. In a stroke of crazy, I noticed that I had somehow omitted onions entirely when originally making the meat mix. Seriously. How do you ignore an entire ingredient? Yep. That (and my purse) must be the sign of an addled mind. At least I am consistent.
I added green onions, parmesan and a bit more ground beef to my mix and started forming the meatballs. Let me tell you a little secret. I know that I’ve talked a lot about using quality ingredients and how Pomi is the best thing since sliced bread. Well, for this, I use canned Hunt’s Pasta Sauce (the no-added sugar variety). I’m not kidding. When I first started dating my future husband, one of the few things he made the kids for dinner was spaghetti with meat sauce. This was not because he couldn’t cook (as we all know). It was because it was cheap. Turns out, if you cook it long enough and season it correctly, there is no difference between Hunt’s $1.50 (big) can of sauce and the $5 a jar stuff.
The trick is this: you really have to cook your meatballs in the sauce from the beginning. As in, when they are raw.
I’ve tried pan frying and broiling and baking before adding to the sauce. Not worth the trouble. Just put the raw meatballs in your (cheap) sauce and let it go. For hours. Start it at nap time if you have little kids. Or on the weekend if you have a day job that prevents you from cooking in the middle of the afternoon. Freeze it. Trust me, you almost can’t ruin this.
You can also make a mean salad to go with your meatballs. The arugula salad with oranges, goat cheese, and pistachios (The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook, page 32) was a winner tonight. One of the kids said it might be her favorite salad so far. I skipped sugaring the pistachios. I’m sure this would have made the salad a knock-out, but I just didn’t feel that fancy. Do not skimp on the dressing. I mean, how can you go wrong with shallot, mint, and orange marmalade? The dressing was fresh and light. A perfect balance to the meatballs and spaghetti.
For once, no one seemed to remember that there was bread on the table. Dinner was that good.