Meatballs and Marinara

Spaghetti with meatballs has got to be one of the most fun dishes to eat, and making your own meatballs and sauce is easy and delicious.  The best part about the recipes we’re presenting today is that both the meatballs and the sauce freeze beautifully, so if you’ve made too much or just want to have something you can pull out of the freezer after work, you’ve got it covered here.  And if pasta isn’t your thing, you can make quite a sandwich just by tossing some chopped banana peppers on top and melting a few slices of provolone cheese.

Michael’s Meatballs

  • 1/2 lb. ground pork
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs – these Japanese style breadcrumbs are coarser and provide a much better texture than regular breadcrumbs.
  • 1/2 cup Italian parsley, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese. You can use pre-shredded as long as it’s of good quality. Stay away from that weird powdered cheese people put on pizza.
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Combine all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.  There’s really no better way to do this, so dig your little hands right in and mix everything until you have a nice, uniform mixture. You can test your seasonings by frying a small portion of the mixture and tasting it – adjust accordingly.  Portion about 3 ounces per meatball (give or take) and drop each meatball into the cup of a non-stick muffin tin.  Bake for 30 minutes on 275, turning half-way through.  A meat thermometer comes in handy here – you want an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees.  I always cut one open to make sure they’re done all the way through – this has the added bonus of being a treat for the cook, because these things smell incredible baking.

All that’s left to do now is to make up some sauce for these wonderful meatballs:

Marinara Sauce

  • 1 – 28 oz can of whole San Marzano tomatoes.  I’m usually not one for brand dropping, but these really are the best canned tomatoes out there.
  • 1 – 6 oz can of tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup of dry red wine
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 teaspoons basil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Empty your tomatoes into a large saucepan and squish them up with your hands. Add the rest of the ingredients and heat until bubbling; turn your heat down and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  If you like a tangier sauce, add 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of dried dill and a splash of red wine vinegar.  Serve over your meatballs and pasta, or finish your al dente pasta in the sauce if you prefer.

I love these two recipes because they are both very hands-on, dive-right-in things to make, but the end result is a rather elegant tasting dish.  Substitute ground venison, veal, or other meats in the meatball recipe or add minced jalapeno peppers to the mixture for some interesting results, and whatever you do — Enjoy!

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7 thoughts on “Meatballs and Marinara

  1. wow, that really sounds wonderful. I think with a good hoagie bun, it would be a wonderful sandwich. I think we’ll try this this weekend.

    • I added this to the post but forgot to mention it at first: fry a little bit of the mixture before you start baking to make sure you like the seasonings. And I think these are better on a sandwich than any other way.

  2. Looks nice. You should try sweating the garlic and shallots for ten or so minutes to get their full flavor before you add your tomatoes. Also if you have time go ahead and stew your sauce for a few hours to get the flavors of all your ingredients to meld together. Cheers!

    • Excellent suggestions, and like most tomato based products, the sauce really can benefit from some good slow cooking. Sweating your shallots and garlic for longer really does open up their flavor!

      Two excellent ways to do this sauce when you have some more time is to blanch and skin your own romas instead of using canned, or, if you have a night to devote, do a slow-heat oven roast of your tomatoes – 12 hours on about 175 really concentrates the taste (just cut the tomatoes in half, sprinkle with kosher salt an drizzle with olive oil). This was written with the “quickest fix” in mind, but there’s certainly some wonderful things you can do with a little more time and prep.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I am a sucker for a good meatball. Or meatball sub. Or meatballs and pasta. Or meatballs with mashed potatoes. Or meatballs with chocolate sauce….okay, I just made that last one up, but that’s how much I love the meatballs.

  4. Pingback: The Arkansas Foodies 2011 Year-in-Review | Arkansas Foodies

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