Classics, Comfort food, Dinner, Italian, Savory

Spaghetti and Meatballs

 

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Nothing gets more comforting than spaghetti and meatballs.   If you have read my Simmer Sauce Solutions article, you will know that I have good pasta sauce in my pantry all the time, making it extremely easy to pull together this meal.  During this pandemic, as we all spend Easter away from our families, a simple, classic meal like this is just what the soul needs.  I did not grow up with spaghetti and meatballs, I had Murgh Kofta.  However, my husband did and he associates this meal with a lot of wonderful childhood memories. Therefore, the pressure was on to remake this meal to his liking–after all, you don’t want to mess with food memories.  So this recipe is now our family’s version of spaghetti and meatballs; the husband approved and we had hearty Easter dinner!  So if you are like me and did not grow up with this classic Italian-American meal, I hope you try it.  If you like it, please drop a comment below!

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Ingredients:

1 pound 80/20 beef (you need the fat for flavor)

1 small onion

2 tsp of minced garlic

1 tsp of salt

1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes

1 tsp of dried parsley

4 Tbsp of breadcrumbs

1 egg

1, 24oz jar of Victoria’s Tomato Basil sauce

1/2 box of pasta or however much you need to cook for your family.

Method:

Preheat oven to 375F and line a metal baking dish with parchment paper

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In a food processor, chop onion and minced garlic together, The smaller the chop, the better, it will make smooth, round meatballs.

In a bowl, add the minced onion and garlic, beef, egg, parsley, red pepper flakes, salt, and breadcrumbs.

With your hands (yes, your hands!! you have to use your fingers to mix), start mixing all the ingredients together, without folding the in the beef–it is in the bowl, but just work around it.  Once all the other ingredients are mixed, start folding in the beef.  It is critical not to overmix the meatball mixture, nobody wants dense meatballs that tough like hockey pucks.

Roll meatballs into 1-inch rounds and place them on a baking sheet.  I got approximately 12 meatballs from this recipe.

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Bake for 30-35 minutes, till the meatballs are brown and cooked through.  Half-way through the baking process, I remove most of the oil that sweats out from the meatballs–you don’t want to start a grease fire in your oven.

Remove meatballs from the cookie sheet and drain and cool on a paper-towel lined plate.  At this point, you can cool the meatballs completely and freeze them or you could proceed to bathe them in the tomato sauce.

Start cooking the pasta according to package directions.

In a separate pot, add the meatballs and cover them with jarred tomato sauce, just enough to cover all the meatballs.  I like to add some dried basil and red pepper flakes to “wake-up” the jarred sauce, but that is entirely optional.  This brand is really good to begin with!

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Reserve, half cup of the startchy cooking water, and drain the pasta, 2 minutes shy of the cook time.  Return the drained pasta to the pot, add the pasta water and enough of the jarred sauce to coat the pasta.  Cook the pasta in the liquid for another two minutes till most of the liquid has evaporated and pasta is completely cooked through.

Plate the pasta with meatballs and extra sauce and serve piping hot.  A garnish of basil would be great, but during this pandemic, I am working with what in the fridge and pantry.

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Indian, Poultry, Savory

Murgh Kofta Rogan Josh

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15 years ago I would scoff at the idea of using “curry” from a “jar”.  15 years ago,  I was not putting food on the table after a busy day at work.  I will admit, I am a curry snob.  Well, let’s get one thing clear, curry really just refers to a slow-cooked, spiced, sauce–it is not a recipe on its own!  However, to keep things simple, I too have fallen into the practice of referring to any Indian saucy dish as curry.  Purists, please forgive me!

Now back to sauces in jars.  There is only one brand that I trust (and no, I don’t get paid by them!) is Pataks.  My Mom used it when we lived in the USA during the early 90s, which means this brand has her seal of approval.  Back then, you would have to drive several miles to get to the nearest Indian Grocery to stock up on these staples.  Now, you can walk into most food stores and find them easily.   One thing I always try to do with these store-bought shortcuts is to add more nutrients to them.  I almost always add vegetables to the sauce, not only does it stretch the meal, but I can get a certain picky eater to eat veggies!!  For this particular “sauce”, I have found that sweet potatoes work really well.  You can use any kind of protein you like (animal or plant-based).  For this version I used mini chicken meatballs, another ode to a childhood “curry” my mother made.  You can check out the recipe for the chicken meatballs here.  With that, here is how I assembled this meal.

Ingredients:

1 batch of mini chicken meatballs

3 medium sweet potatoes, diced.

1 jar of Patak’s Rogan Josh sauce.

1Tbsp of olive oil

1 cup of water

1tsp of chili powder

1 tsp of garam masala

Method:

Heat olive oil in a pan.  Once the oil is hot, add the diced sweet potatoes.  Saute till the potatoes start to become tender.

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Add the whole jar of sauce and 1 cup of water to the sweet potatoes.  Cover the pot and cook on medium-low heat for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so.  You don’t want anything to stick to the bottom off the pot!

After about 40 minutes, the sweet potato will become tender.  Using the back of a spoon, I roughly mash the sweet potatoes into the sauce.  This adds thickness and a delicious sweetness to the curry.

Add the meatballs to the sauce, cover and cook for another 10 minutes on low heat.  Remember, the meatballs are cooked, so you don’t want to over-cook them or use high heat.  That will toughen the meatballs and nobody likes that!

At the very end, I added chili powder and garam masala, stirred the spices in the sauce and turned the heat off.    At this point, you an let the dish cool down to room temperature, portion it and freeze it for later.

If you are planning to eat right away, I would add the spices along with the meatballs, cook the dish for 10 minutes and serve hot with either rice or Naan or both!!!  Enjoy!

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Appetizers, Indian, Poultry, Savory

Murgh Kofta (Chicken Meatballs)

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This is a “house” recipe.  Traditional kofta has more ingredients and the recipe changes from country to country (India, Pakistan, Turkey etc.).  This version is packed with flavor, has only a few ingredients and can be whipped up in 30 minutes.  It is also a different way to use ground chicken which often goes on sale.  I like to make mini balls and have them with hummus, pita, and a garden salad.  You can certainly make larger patties and make it into a burger!  Here is the recipe.

Ingredients:

1 pound ground chicken

1 medium onion, grated directly on to the chicken (you want the juices from the onion)

1 tsp of minced garlic, minced ginger, chili powder, salt, and garam masala.

1 Tbsp of chopped parsley (this time, I did not have any, but I would highly recommend it)

1Tbsp of olive oil

Method:

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.  Don’t over mix–you will get hard koftas!

2. Heat oil in a pan.

3. Use a 0.5-inch ice-cream scoop to form mini chicken balls.  If you wet your palms before rolling, you will get smooth, round koftas!

4. Fry on medium-high heat till deep golden brown and cooked through.

5. Serve piping hot!!

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