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Spaghetti everyone will enjoy

February 8, 2010

A while back, SoupAddict filed away a recipe for chicken meatballs with balsamic glaze – they sounded like fantastic appetizers. But then SoupAddict saw an amazing recipe for tomato sauce … and things began to click. But then there was some knocking and pinging and other disturbing noises coming from her brain pan, which often happens when too much thinking occurs too quickly. But after short break and a few spritzes of cold water, things smoothed out, and soon a vision of the perfect spaghetti dish appeared.

A three-ingredient but completely decadent tomato sauce plus tangy chicken meatballs, served over steaming hot pasta, is just what SoupAddict needs after a long, cold winter’s day. San Marzano tomatoes take center stage and shine in this brilliant concoction that adults and children alike will love.

SoupAddict just about swallowed her gum when she saw the price of a can of San Marzano tomatoes at Kroger. Which is quite the feat since SoupAddict doesn’t chew gum. But, she bought them anyway, because the only other option was a $1.69 can of suspicious “San Marzano-Style” tomatoes canned under the Kroger private label. SoupAddict figured there was a significant reason for the $3.00 difference and went about her b’iness, mentally filing the whole encounter under “Things to Repress.”
SoupAddict can’t believe there are just four ingredients in this sauce. So far, the entire effort has consisted of opening a $4.69 can of tomatoes, making three slices into an onion and removing its skin.
Adding a whole 5 tablespoons of butter drove SoupAddict near to exhaustion, but she persevered.
Having spent 3 1/2 minutes on the sauce, it’s time to start on the meatballs, even though SoupAddict really deserves a nap.
SoupAddict will spare you the details of kneading the liquids into the chicken. It made squishy noises and got under SoupAddict’s fingernails. Gross. Just sayin’.
SoupAddict is a veteran of many thousands of drop cookies, and forms ball-shaped food of all sorts like a semi-pro. Meatballs should be the same size, so they will bake evenly. But don’t worry if they’re not perfect. SoupAddict will not point and laugh. Mostly because she doesn’t know where you live and therefore cannot.
Brush on lots of the balsamic glaze. Lots. As in, loads. And then put ’em in the oven.
Now for the pasta. Roilin’ roilin’ roilin’. Get the water boilin’. Roilin’ roilin’ roilin’, raw … oh, nevermind. SoupAddict has had that song stuck in her head for days now.
It’s been 45 minutes since the exhausting sauce exercise. Let’s see how it’s doing. Are there blurpy bubbles of fat? Yes, indeedy.
Remove the onions from the sauce and discard. [As if] SoupAddict is not sure yet what she’s going to do with these beauties, but filing it under “G” isn’t one of the options.
Chicken meat-sa ball-sa are done. Note to the wise: whether or not you line your baking sheet with foil, do spray the sheet or the foil with spray oil first (parchment paper won’t require spraying—SoupAddict loves da parchment paper). SoupAddict characteristically did not remember so the chicken meatballs left butt bits all over the foil.
The kiddies will love just the pasketti and sauce. Maybe with some cheese.
The Adults should tell the Kiddies that the meat-sa ball-sa are coated with an artichoke-broccoli-wheatgerm glaze, and that “you, Dear Kiddies, can have all the meat-sa ball-sa that you want. Go ahead, help yourselves!” [Horrified looks] [Grabby hands freeze in mid-air] Then the Adults should sigh heavily and dramatically, and fussily load the delicious meat-sa ball-sa on their own deserving plates.

You do enough for the Kiddies – you deserve some meat-sa ball-sa.

Spaghetti and Meatballs
Sauce
2 cups whole, peeled, canned plum tomatoes, chopped, with their juices (about one 28-oz. can)
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut in half
    salt, to taste
Meatballs
1 egg
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup milk (I used 2%)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound ground chicken
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons Italian seasoned bread crumbs (I used regular bread crumbs)
Glaze
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3/4 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Make the Sauce: Combine the tomatoes, their juices, the butter, and the onion halves in a medium saucepan. Add a pinch or two of salt. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, at a very slow but steady simmer, adjusting the heat as necessary, for about 45 minutes, or until droplets of fat float free from the tomato. Stir occasionally, mashing any large pieces of tomato with the back of a wooden spoon. Taste and salt as needed.

Discard the onion before tossing the sauce with pasta.

Make the Meatballs: Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, parsley, tomato paste, garlic, milk, salt, and pepper. Make sure the tomato paste is completely dissolved.

Add the ground chicken, cheese, and breadcrumbs. Use clean hands to mix ingredients together. Form medium size balls and place onto a lined and/or greased baking sheet.

Make the Meatball Glaze: Make the glaze by whisking all of the ingredients together in a small bowl, then brush over meatballs (if you don’t have a brush, just use a spoon). Bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of a meatball registers 160 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can just test one of the meatballs with a fork.

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8 Comments
  1. PhyllisRyan permalink
    February 8, 2010 8:58 am

    I have also seen this recipe for sauce and am on the hunt for the San Marzano tomatoes. But the chicken meatballs are new and look lovely and since there are no kids I will only have to lie to my husband. (Actually, all I have to do is tell him they are chicken and they will all be mine.)

  2. marcella permalink
    February 8, 2010 9:10 am

    This sauce is all over the food blogs I read – from Orangette to Smitten Kitchen to you! I learnt it’s a Marcella Hazan’s recipe and I tried it myself – you know, from one Marcella to another 😉 – and, though at first could not see what was so amazing about that, now I make it every week. Keeps beautifully in the fridge and it’s even better one or two days later. The only change I made is NOT discarding the onion but processing it quickly with a buzz of my immersion blender, for added sweetness.

    But your meatballs… yum, I have to try them! The glaze is so mouthwatering. Thanks for sharing!

  3. SoupAddict permalink
    February 8, 2010 9:43 am

    Orangette! Yes, that’s where I saw it, thank you. I wracked and wracked my brain and just couldn’t come up with it. I think it’s one of those recipes that made the all blog rounds at the time it was first published by Marcella Hazan.

    I’m going to have to try it with regular canned roma tomatoes – I can’t imagine it would make all that much of a difference, as it’s the butter and stewing onions that give this baby it’s flavor.

  4. marcella permalink
    February 8, 2010 10:08 am

    (I’m not going to tell you how much I pay for a can of true San Marzano tomatoes here…. ;)) But definitely go for the best tomatoes you can find. The first time I tried this I used some nondescript ones and the results were far from amazing. Such simple recipes with so few ingredients do call for the best quality around, as flavours are so pure and unadultered they come across as they are, for good or bad.
    But I’m sure you know about that 🙂

    ps
    I think it’s my turn now to write about this recipe!

  5. Nick Decker permalink
    February 9, 2010 4:01 pm

    Hiya, Soup Addict. What a great blog, and this recipe rocks!

    I should probably start a blog called “Meat-sa Ball-sa Addict” ’cause I love ’em.

    I made the sauce this afternoon and assembled the meatball recipe to scoop out and bake later (so that after a couple of drinks, I won’t screw things up).

    The sauce is killer! For the meatballs (please don’t rap my knuckles), I subbed ground beef for the chicken…we shall see.

    Oh yeah, for the sauce, I pulled out maybe half of the onions, then pureed everything else with the immersible blender. Sweet, smooth and delish.

    A friend turned me onto the San Marzano tomatoes a while back. They really do make a difference, just hard to find (and expensive) around here. I’m thinkin’ I should just order a case from Amazon.

    Keep it up!

    Nick

  6. SoupAddict permalink
    February 9, 2010 5:33 pm

    Hi Nick, thanks for visiting and your kind comment! I agree about the sauce – I think it would go well with either beef or chicken. I believe both you and Marcella about the San Marzano tomatoes – I’m just trying to recover from the sticker shock. $5 a can! [swoon] $5 a can! [swoon]. Okay, I’m better.

    I’m looking forward to my own crop of fresh heirloom plum tomatoes (pounds and pounds and pounds of tomatoes, courtesy of one $0.001 seed) – their flavor beats canned San Marzanos any day of the week, if I do say so myself. 😉 (And they won’t drive me to the poor house…although, it’s a long time between now and August. Next stop: Second Job Junction! “And why are you applying for this job today?” “I like San Marzano tomatoes.” “Uh huuuuh. And how would you feel about something away from the public, like collecting carts?” “I like San Marzano tomatoes.” “Okey-dokey! Carts it is.” “I like San Marzano tomatoes.” “Security!”)

  7. marcella permalink
    February 9, 2010 8:29 pm

    LOL! I never thought San Marzano could make me laugh so much 😀

    (if you ever happened to feel the slightest pang of envy thinking about the cheap canned San Marzano available around here, please be aware that I’m wringing my hands thinking about your daily harvested crops. I’m a city girl and am not even able to grow a sage plant on my windowsill, but that’s how you made me feel. Just sayin’ 😉 )

  8. SoupAddict permalink
    February 26, 2010 12:34 pm

    Okay, to my great relief, I found a source for cheap(er) canned San Marzano tomatoes – they even carry the crushed and diced variations. Whew! I’m pretty much using them for anything called for canned tomatoes now. I’m hooked!

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