Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Spaghetti Sauce and Meatballs from Scratch

I've never made spaghetti sauce from scratch, and I thought that now is the perfect time to take on this time-consuming task.  My friend, Tammy, is of Italian descent, and she kindly gave me Lynn's, her mother's, spaghetti sauce and meatballs recipe.  I saw that the recipe called for canned crushed tomatoes, and I really wanted to use fresh tomatoes.  After searching all over the web with most recipes calling for canned tomatoes, I became worried that I fresh tomatoes would be out of the question.  I found out that you can use fresh tomatoes afterall, but it means more work.  I also researched other ingredients that can make my sauce stand out.  I came across a wonderful article by Kim Severson of The New York Times about a personal journey in tracing the roots of her family's spaghetti sauce. 

I immediately took a liking to her family's recipe because of the addition of a pound pork spareribs and chuck roast.  That's bound to be an exciting spaghetti sauce!  The Zappa family served these meats, including meatballs, piled high on the spaghetti. 

I decided to combine Lynn's and the Kappa family's recipes and use a variety of fresh tomatoes to develop my own homemade spaghetti sauce and meatballs.

Fresh Tomatoes and Pork Ribs Spaghetti Sauce

1 rack of baby back pork ribs
3.4 lbs roma tomatoes
1.3 lbs orange cluster tomatoes
2 lbs vine ripened tomatoes
1 box of sliced button mushrooms (steamed to get rid of excess liquid)
2 (6 oz) cans of tomato paste
2 dried bay leaf
1 1/2 chopped onions
3 roasted bell peppers

The Following Can Be As Much As You Want

garlic (minced)
fresh basil (thinly sliced)
ground oregano
red pepper flakes
fresh parsley (minced)
olive oil
red wine

Dry Ingredients: Salt, Sugar, Red Wine, Tomato Paste, Olive Oil, Ground Oregano, Rosemary, Thyme, Red Pepper Flakes

Sauce Ingredients: Browned Pork Ribs, Seeded-Skined-and Chopped Tomatoes, Basil, Onions, Steamed Mushrooms, Garlic, Roasted Bell Peppers

If you want to use fresh tomatoes, be prepared to skin and squeeze a whole lot of them. 

Roma, Vine Ripened, and Orange Cluster Tomatoes (around 6.7 lbs!)

First, quickly bathe the tomatoes (5 at a time for 5-10 seconds) in boiling water, then immediately put them in ice water to remove the skin.

Tomatoes in Boiling Water; Skinned Tomatoes

After you have skinned all the tomatoes, cut the tomatoes in quarters and squeeze the water and juice out.  Then, roughly chop the tomatoes.

Squeezing the Tomatoes; Chopped Tomatoes
The entire sauce-cooking process involves one pot, so make sure you get a large enough pot.  The first thing you do in this pot is brown the pork ribs.  Heat the pot with some olive oil and lightly seasoned the ribs with salt before placing them in the pot to brown.  Turn the ribs so they brown evenly and don't stick to the pot.  After the ribs have brownd, take them out and pour out the fat from the pot.  The ribs should not be fully cooked.

Browning Baby Back Ribs

Heat the pan with olive oil again, and toss the onions and garlic into the pot.  Once the onion is half tender, Arrange the ribs in the onion and garlic so that the ribs are touching the bottom of the pan.  Pour in the red wine and let simmer for 5 minutes.  Then top the ribs and onions with the steamed mushrooms, roasted bell peppers, and tomatoes.  Mix the ingredients together and let the stuff set for 5 minutes. Then mix in 2 cans of tomato paste.  Season the pot with some of the salt, sugar, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and red pepper flakes.  Be careful not to over season the sauce.  It's safer to go light and season as you go.  Let the sauce sit for 10 minutes, then add half of fresh basil and parsley.  Allow the sauce to simmer on low heat for about an hour.

Ribs and onions simmering in red wine; Adding mushrooms and roasted bell peppers

Mixing the fresh ingredients together; Adding basil

In the meantime, prep the meatballs!


2 lbs extra lean ground beef
1 lb lean ground pork
2 cups mixture of Italian bread crumbs and regular bread crumbs (I didn't have enough of Italian bread crumbs)
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 tbls olive oil
garlic (minced)
1/2 onion (finely chopped)
1/2 cup raisins

Meatball Ingredients

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl by hand except the raisins.  Put the bowl in the fridge for 30 minutes then add the raisins and roll the mixture into balls.  Brown the meatballs in olive oil on medium heat.  Don't overcrowd the pan.  Brown the meatballs evenly but don't cook it completely.  Drain the browned meatballs on paper towels.

Mixing the meatball ingredients; Rolled meatballs ready for the pan

Browning the meatballs; Browned meatballs

Once all the meatballs are browned, extract all the pork ribs from the tomato sauce if you don't want to serve the ribs with the spaghetti, and gently put the meatballs in the pot of simmering tomato sauce and simmer for at least another hour.  Taste test the sauce every now and then for seasoning.  Then serve sauce and meatballs on spaghetti.

Meatballs on tomato sauce before being pushed to the bottom of the pot

Spaghetti Sauce and Meatballs

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and Meatballs

I was pretty happy with my homemade sauce and meatballs, but I think I under-seasoned everything. 

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