There were a variety of things I was supposed to do today. That “supposed to” is important, as it means I didn’t get nearly as much done as I wanted to – but as we are cleaning up the details from an acquisition that we just did, business takes precedence over cooking. After all, those paychecks are buying dinner ingredients.
The one thing I did manage to get done was making meatballs (and vacuum packing the remainder of the meat). Spaghetti with meatballs is an American thing, as real Italian cooking doesn’t do the whole meatballs with pasta dance. But what’s not to love about tasty meatballs covered in a great tomato sauce atop a bed of pasta?
It’s been a long time since I made meatballs. When I was younger, making them for the store, I seem to recall a recipe I followed. If there was a recipe, it’s long gone, lost in the ebb and flow of time and many moves. Still, the basic meatball is the basic meatball, and sometimes – most times – simple preparation is the best. Our meatballs therefore are composed of ground beef, ground veal, and ground pork, seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, oregano, tarragon, basil, parsley, bread crumbs, egg, and grated parm-reg.
As with anything, it’s important to have a little taste so that seasonings can be adjusted. Since stuffing your face with a raw beef/pork/veal mixture (and as an added bonus, raw egg) is not exactly appetizing, you do the next best thing. Make a baby meatball.
Brown it off all around, then keep spinning it so it cooks through. This is very important with ground meats, and even more important for people like me, who are likely to be (for medical reasons) more sensitive to any little bugs that might be running around in the meat. People with normal, healthy immune systems don’t need to worry quite as much, but really, better to be safe.
In practice, these would be browned and then finish cooking in the pasta sauce. I didn’t get around to making sauce today, and since we have a couple of vegetarians coming for dinner, mixing the meatballs and the sauce is a no-no. For our tasting purposes, this allows for adjusting the seasonings, and in this case, the mix needed more salt, more basil, and more garlic. After reseasoning and retasting, it’s time to make the meatball army.
One of the keys to all this is making the meatballs all about the same size. These were just eyeballed, as I wasn’t feeling anal enough to measure pinches of the mix. I think they turned out pretty well. Right now, they’re in the freezer. While the pasta dough is resting tomorrow, the meatballs will be browning so they can go into the sauce.
Something I really need to do right this instant is get the starter going for the baguettes. I’m planning to have an emergency backup baguette on hand, just in case something goes horribly awry with the bread experiment (since I’ve never made a baguette before in my life). I suppose I should also throw a stick of butter on the counter to soften and mince up some garlic really fine so there will be garlic butter to spread on whatever bread we do wind up having.