Thursday, February 18, 2010


On our one trip to the supermarket during the brief break between Snowpocalypse I and Snowpocalypse II, Mr Minx and I picked up a package of ground sirloin (the only meat available) in order to make spaghetti and meatballs at some point during our forced sequestration from society. I thought we might try something different and make the meatballs we saw on a recent episode of Cook's Country (the new, even more-folksy version of America's Test Kitchen, shown eleventy times a day on WETA Create). The recipe involves making a panade of bread and milk to bind the meat and to create a more tender texture - we usually just use dry bread crumbs.

We did not follow the recipe completely - there was no Italian sausage in the house so we simply omitted it. Also, we did not use the onion mixture that was part of the entire meatballs with marinara recipe because when I consulted the recipe, I only jotted down the list of ingredients which makes no mention of onions (see below) and did not check the method which does mention onions (also below). You'd think since I had seen the episode the week before I might have remembered that essential ingredient, but nooooo.

In any case, the meatballs were slightly bland, but otherwise were pretty good. The panade went a long way to improve the texture of the 87% fat-free sirloin, and baking them (I did remember that part) kept the house from smelling like fried meat.

Because we had no canned tomatoes in the house, I just opened up a jar of my favorite commercial sauce, Mid's, in the "meatless" flavor. (More on Mid's later in the week.)

While it didn't come close to my Aunt Stasia's from-scratch spaghetti and meatballs - my holy grail - it did simulate a very good restaurant version.

Meatballs (via Cook's Country)
4 slices hearty white sandwich bread
3/4 cup milk
1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 large eggs
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck (80 percent lean)

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Mash bread and milk in bowl with reserved onion mixture until smooth. Add remaining ingredients, except ground beef, to bowl and mash to combine. Add beef and knead with hands until well combined. Form mixture into 2 1/2-inch meatballs (you should have about 16 meatballs), place on rimmed baking sheet, and bake until well browned, about 20 minutes.
Note: Our meatballs took about 35 minutes to brown, and I turned them twice during the baking process.