Nick Stellino’s Italian Meatballs

 

If you’ve followed me for a while, you know I have celebrity chef crushes: Nigella Lawson, Ming Tsai, Michael Symon…and Nick Stellino

These are more than just following their recipes, it’s about enjoying their story-telling, their cooking style, their outlook on life. Right now, I’m enjoying a story a day from Nick Stellino, via his Storyteller in the Kitchen series.

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Here’s the link to the meatball recipe. I believe you can easily use the electric pressure cooker (instant pot, etc) for this. Just use the saute setting first to bring it to a boil, then reduce to the slow cooker high setting for about 2 hours, or until the meatballs are cooked through to the center.  I would not use the pressure cooking setting – the sauce will burn and the meatballs will fall apart.


 

Tidbits

Meatballs!  I followed this recipe, mostly.  Quantities in the recipe were for 1 lb. of meat – I went with 1 lb. of ground beef and 1 lb. of Italian sausage and scaled the amounts accordingly.  I’ve no idea what locatelli cheese is so these were made with Parmesan.They were browned in the toaster oven before going into the sauce.I like then over spaghetti with more grated Parmesan and ribbons of basil.  I may do some meatball subs today with the rolls I baked the other day:I had planned to smoke a pork shoulder but when the big chunk of meat was thawed it turned out to be beef.  I resorted to the crockpot and made a batch of Italian beef.  My recipe is to slice a bunch of onions, mince a lot of garlic, add beef or chicken broth, red wine, bay leaves, dried basil and oregano, more granulated garlic and onion, and salt and ground black pepper.  Open a jar of pepperoncini and dump them all in – with the juice.  Some red pepper flakes work well but are optional.  Put all of that stuff in with the beef and give it 8 hours or so on high.  Proper Chicago style Italian beef is made with thin sliced beef but I don’t do it that way because I don’t keep a deli slicer out on the counter.  Mine is more like pulled pork:Here’s a quick lunch we had the other day before I baked the rolls, the little buns are a par-baked item Kroger carries, just pop them into the toaster oven for a few minutes and they made credible slider buns.Here we go with a full sized sammich.  I like them dipped but if you dip the whole sammich it becomes a race to finish it before it falls apart.  A little bowl of juice on the side overcomes that problem.Lest you think it’s all meat and carbs around here, Mrs J cuts up a sweet yellow watermelon.

Tidbits

20170223_111706-1600x1200Breakfast pr0n!  Not what we had for breakfast, actually.  More a breakfast for lunch.  I don’t eat breakfast and Mrs J contents herself with a bagel but we both love waffles.  The bacon is thin sliced porchetta.20170224_092427-1600x1200I didn’t dump all the patio herbs, I wanted to see if they would come back in the spring.  The chives are doing great but the sage next to it still looks dead.  The bare twigs at the far right are rosemary that I am still hoping will show new growth but nothing yet.20170224_092346-1600x1200The front gardens are just barely showing some color – the scilla can be counted on for a touch of early blue.  The day lilies are greening, as are the daffodils and sedum.dsc_2191-1600x1200More meatballs!  I made several, there are two left.  Not enough for a proper sammich but I guess I can do a couple of meatball sliders.20170223_115130-1600x1200These were out for a last rise before baking.  I busied myself about making that breakfast-for-lunch while they were out and they really puffed up before I could get them into the oven.dsc_5597-1600x1200Here’s Ollie, watching me compose this post.  He’s already made himself at home.  He is fitting in rather well with no apparent animosities developing with any of the other cats.dsc03901-1600x1200One of the shelter cats.  The eyes in the original picture were highlighted by a stray beam that prompted me to play that up with a few tweaks.

Friday Recipe Exchange: Pastas and Sauces

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I did not step in my kitchen this week, except to put together a salad or reheat some (homemade) soup. Allergies, pets, friends and work ate away all my time and energy. So for tonight I went into the archives and combined a couple of exchanges to come up with tonight’s recipes.

Let’s start out with JeffreyW’s Awesome Sauce (recipe here) because, well, it’s awesome.

Want something a little simpler and quicker? How about his San Marzano Sauce, click here.

And his Shrimp & Pasta Formaggio (here) is a quick and easy alternative to red sauce.

When everything is in season, I like to make my sauce with fresh ingredients, so I have a Garden Fresh Pasta Sauce (recipe here) that’s lighter and fresher than tonight’s featured recipe.

If you like meatballs with your favorite sauce, my favorite recipe (pictured above) is here and also at that link are several other styles of meatballs from JeffreyW, so you should find something you like.

When it comes to pastas, I favor two options, a nice spiral (fusilli or rotini) or a quick cooking Angel Hair (capellini), but if I can get it fresh from the farmer’s market, I’ll take what I can get, which is usually a linguine. It’s all tasty.

Now sauces can be risky and start a great debate, because every family has their version. So hit the comments with your favorite pasta sauce recipe, and for that matter, pastas, because there are so many choices. Like many things, I’m not all that concerned about the right pasta for the right sauce, I say, use what you enjoy and ignore the purists.

Food should be fun. For that matter, so should wine, beer and scotch. What’s on your plate this weekend?

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For the featured recipe, I went with my traditional family sauce, the one I grew up with, but with a few tweaks. Now, even in my family, half of which are Italian, even the most basic sauce has as many different variations as there are cooks, so this is just a place to start, add your own touches to make it your family tradition. This is a hearty sauce and my go-to in the colder months when fresh ingredients are not readily available. I always double this and freeze half for a later dinner.

Spaghetti w/Meat Sauce

  • 9 – 12 oz pasta of choice (I like angel hair for this recipe)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 tsp. crushed garlic
  • 1 lb lean ground beef (or 1/2 beef and 1/2 spicy Italian sausage)
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 3 tomatoes, diced (or 14 oz can diced tomatoes)
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 3 tsp dried basil, crushed*
  • 2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 1 tsp rosemary, crushed
  • 1 carrot, finely grated or 1/2 tsp sugar (these reduce the acidity of the sauce and bring out the spices – trust me on this one – I prefer the carrot, myself.)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • red pepper flakes (opt) to taste
  • grated Parmesan cheese

2 saucepans and large skillet

In skillet, heat oil, sauté pepper, onion, garlic.  Add hamburger and cook thoroughly.  Add tomato paste and 1 tsp ea of crushed basil, oregano and rosemary, mix well.   In saucepan, add remaining ingredients and bring to a low boil, reduce heat, add meat mixture and let simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.

Cook pasta according to directions, drain well and serve with sauce and Parmesan cheese.

*CRUSHING Spices – when using dry spices, to get the best flavor, you should crush them, either by rubbing them in your hand or using a mortar and pestle before adding them to a recipe.

For the full menu that I created for this recipe, click here for menu, recipes and shopping list.

That’s it for this week. I’m thinking apples next week. Have a great weekend – TaMara

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Breaded Meatballs

DSC_0159 (1600x1060)Mrs J drove into town to do her part at the shelter so I fiddled about in the kitchen.  I knew breaded meatballs were a thing but I’ve never tried any until today.  The meatballs were basic Italian sausage with lots of Parmesan, chopped parsley, garlic, bread crumbs, an egg, a splash of milk and salt and pepper.  I knew the breading would burn if they had to cook for a long time so I made mine fairly small – about an inch or so.  Smaller than golf balls, anyway.  I tried one rolled in just the breadcrumbs and it did OK, but the rest of them were floured, dredged in egg, and then rolled in the breadcrumbs.DSC_0156 (1600x1060)I used olive oil and watched the heat, keeping it medium low, and tried to roll the meatballs to keep any one side from getting too brown.  You pretty much need to stand over the pan the whole time.  This skillet is pretty full because it’s the last batch and my legs were tiring.DSC_0162 (1600x1060)This is the photo the whole effort was leading up to.  I buttered both halves of one of my buns and toasted them before adding the meatballs and spooning on sauce.  After grating Parmesan over it all they went back into the toaster oven for a minute or two.DSC_0164 (1600x1060)