Italian Meatballs in Tomato Stew

February 17, 2008

I had a hankering for meatballs a few days ago when I had very little in the house, so I ventured down the street (canvas bags in hand) to Andronico’s in North Berkeley to pick up my accoutrements.

You will need:

1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 lb lean ground beef
3 T fresh grated Parmesan-Reggiano
1 egg
Several T breadcrumbs (I like to make my own from stale baguette)
Fresh Oregano (several sprigs)
1 medium yellow onion
1 shallot
4 cloves garlic
Chili pepper flakes
salt & pepper
a good 10 or 12 inch sautee pan

Start by sauteeing 1/2 the onion, and half of shallot in the pan with olive oil after you’ve minced them. Keep the heat medium low or the shallot will burn. Mince the oregano, and add it to the pan when the shallot and onion are becoming translucent, add salt & pepper. When fully translucent and cooked, but not caramelized, add the mixture to a bowl and let cool a bit.

Add the two meats into the bowl along with the egg, salt, and pepper. Add breadcrumbs as needed until you achieve a wet but not too wet mixture that will allow you to form the meat into balls. Form them into a golf-ball size and add olive oil to the pan you sauteed the onions in. Bring to high or medium high heat, add the meatballs and brown on each side. Don’t worry about cooking through. Once browned, set aside.

Add a touch more olive oil to the pan, along with the garlic, rest of the shallot and the other half of onion. When translucent, add ~1 T dry thyme, salt, and pepper. Sautee until fragrant but not caramelized. Add 1 large can of San Marzano tomatoes, and 1-2 tsp. of chili pepper flakes. Cook until tomatoes break apart and form a sauce or stew consistency.

Turn heat to medium low and add the meatballs, loosely covering with a large lid to keep steam in and cook the meatballs through.

I like to serve it on spaghetti, or in small portions with a bit of bread.

This recipe can be modified to make something like Spanish Albondigas. You would add more chili flakes to the sauce, use a higher proportion of pork for the meatballs, and you would add chicken stock to the “stew.”

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