Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tyler's Ultimate Spaghetti and Meatballs

Don't worry, the other ice cream recipes are coming. But for now I couldn't resist posting this.

Tyler's Ultimate is pretty much the best show on the Food Network. What do you guys think? I like him because he's upbeat, cool (wow, am I in seventh grade or what?), and his food always looks to-die-for! I recently tried his Ultimate Spaghetti and Meatballs, and I was NOT disappointed.

First off, I've never had a lot of luck with homemade red sauces. (BTW, if any of you know of a great recipe, do share! It's a skill I'm determined to master.) But at long last, I made a successful red sauce thanks to Tyler's pomodoro sauce featured in this recipe. It's a tad different than a traditional marinara, but if you ask me, it's spoon-lickin' good.

Second, this recipe cannot be classified as an easy weeknight meal. It's more of a romantic-dinner-for-two type recipe. It can be made in an hour, but it's a rather intense hour, since you'll have several things going on at once. (I had to stick Baby T in his high chair and bribe him with Ritz crackers to keep him from pawing at my legs the whole hour. Good news—it worked!)

With that said, let's dive in!

Pomodoro Sauce

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes, drained and crushed by hand, liquid reserved
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the vegetables are soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Carefully add the tomatoes (they may spatter) and about 1/2 cup of the reserved liquid and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the sauce is thick, about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. (*I added a dash of dried basil and oregano at this point.) Bring to a boil, stirring for a few minutes with a wooden spoon to further break up the tomatoes. Reduce the heat and let simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in the fresh basil and season again.

Spaghetti and Meatballs
1 pound spaghetti
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1 cup milk
4 thick slices firm white bread, crust removed
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
1 large egg
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups heated Pomodoro Sauce, recipe follows, or good quality jarred tomato sauce
1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, cut into chunks
A few sprigs fresh basil for garnish

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and parsley and cook until the vegetables are soft but still translucent, about 10 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and let cool.

Pour enough milk over the bread in a bowl to moisten, and let it soak while the onions are cooling. Combine the meats in a large bowl. Add the egg and Parmigiano and season generously with salt and pepper. Use your hands to squeeze the excess milk out of the bread, and add the bread to the bowl. Also add the cooled onion mixture. Gently combine all the ingredients with your hands until just mixed together. Don't overwork or the meatballs will be tough. Shape into 10 meatballs. (*Or more depending on your size preference)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat a 3-count of oil in the frying pan over medium heat and brown the meatballs on all sides, about 10 minutes. Place them in a baking dish and spoon about half of the Pomodoro sauce over. Shower with the mozzarella. Put the meatballs in the oven and bake until the meatballs are cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti according to package directions. Drain and put it onto a large serving platter. Pour on the rest of the sauce and mix well. Spoon the meatballs on top of the spaghetti and garnish with basil leaves. Serve immediately, with extra Parmesan cheese.

I'm guessing most of you won't need meatballs galore like this recipe makes. I would halve or even quarter the meatball recipe, but do make the full sauce recipe. The more sauce, the better, right?

I hope whoever you make this for is impressed with your culinary prowess. :) Enjoy!

*Need to use up that extra fresh basil and parmesan? Try this bruschetta recipe on allrecipes.com.


Melanie said...

I saw that episode of Tyler's Ultimate on the FN. It looked to-die for.

We are moving to Wisconsin. Right now we are in the middle of all the chaos - I can't wait until we are settled!

Natalie said...

I think I saw that episode, too! If you have time, try Emeril's Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce. It's on my blog and on the FN site. I make a double batch and then freeze 2-cup portions in ziploc bags. TONS better than store-bought sauce!

Erica said...

So glad I'm not the only food network nerd, and THANK YOU, Natalie, for the recommendation! I'm totally going to try it.