Thursday, March 31, 2016

Three-Animal Meatballs and Marinara

Three-Animal Meatball and Marinara, right. Left is Alfredo and pasta.
If you're not into meat, I'll just suggest you skip this post. This is a meatball recipe and features the meat from three different animals: beef, pork, turkey. I didn't want to call it 3-Meat Meatballs. That just sounds funny to me. So Three-Animal Meatballs it is. Meat is from animals, you know. As I was researching some ideas for my meatball recipe, I found a number of them out there that call for veal. I don't use veal in my cooking. It's just hard to get where I live and when it comes to cooking I like to use what is readily available. So instead of veal, I use turkey. And I buy meat from local farmers and organic whenever possible. I like to know where and who raised the animal. I grew up on a farm so I know how it all works. Enough on that topic. On to the meatballs. These are great. Seriously. You can make a big batch like this, freeze some and have them on hand for quick dinner. I happen to love meatballs with sautéed cabbage. And actually this Three-Animal Meatball is adapted from my own Spinach Meatball recipe posted here. Meatballs are really quite easy to make and the marinara, a snap. You can make the sauce and while it simmers, make the meatballs.

Homemade Marinara
2 quarts Roma tomatoes*
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
a couple of basil leaves
pinch of red pepper flakes, opt.
Heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté quickly for just a minute. Add tomatoes. Simmer on low 2-3 hours until reduced and oil is dark orange on top. Add basil chopped at the end.

Three-Animal Meatballs
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground pork (or a seasoned Italian sausage would work fine here too)
1 lb. ground turkey
1 cup spinach leaves chopped into small pieces (or if you freeze it ahead, it crumbles easily in a zipper bag)
2 tsp. dried basil
2 tsp. dried parsley
2 tsp. garlic powder (or one clove crushed)
1 tsp. oregano leaves
1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground black pepper (try Penzey's pepper! Best ever!)
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

1/4 c. milk
1/2 c. bread crumbs (Italian seasoned if you use plain pork, or plain crumbs if you use Italian sausage)

Heat oven to 400°F. Combine all the ingredients with your hands until well blended. Prepare two cookie sheets by coating with some pan spray. Using a spring scoop (size 20) form meatballs and arrange 12 each on a pan. Bake about 20 minutes. Remove from pan and carefully add to marinara. Simmer about an hour or longer. 

*The best tomatoes are the ones canned at home if you are able. If you buy, go for organic San Marzano DOP Authentic Plum Tomatoes. I think these are the best you can get. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Homemade Alfredo Sauce and Fresh Pasta

Alfredo sauce, left, marinara over 3-animal meatball, right.
I won't go into the boring details about why I finally decided to make my own Alfredo sauce, but I am really glad I did. I will never buy it in the jar again. This is really easy, has few ingredients, none of them are too fancy and it flies together pretty quickly—so you have no excuses. I can't believe I haven't done this sooner. You can adjust the garlic to your personal taste. I adapted this from a recipe I found but changed to accommodate what I had on hand. I didn't have the 2 cups of Parmesan cheese it called for. Or heavy cream. So I used flour and whole milk (dairy-free hubby was not eating this dish!), less cheese, plenty of garlic and my favorite black pepper.Very easy and very pleasing! Hope you like!  If you are making your own pasta, you have to start that about 2 hours before you plan to eat it, or if you are making the dough ahead, refrigerate it until ready to use. Allow about 20-30 minutes for rolling, cutting, drying and cooking.

Homemade Alfredo Sauce
1/4 c. butter
2 T. all purpose flour
1 tsp. black pepper (more to taste)
1 tsp. salt
1 c. whole milk
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 close garlic, smashed
2 t. parsley

Melt butter on low heat. Stir in flour until smooth. Whisk in the milk until fully combined. Heat on LOW heat about 5 minutes until just starting to thicken. Stir constantly to avoid lumps or scorching. Remove from heat. Add salt and pepper. Add cheese, garlic and parsley. Stir until cheese is melted. Serve immediately over fresh pasta.

Fresh Pasta Dough
1 lb. flour (part semolina, part all-purpose) *see below
4 large eggs plus one yolk
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1-2 T. warm water.
Using a large stand mixer with dough hook (Kitchen Aid) put flour, eggs, oil, salt and water in bowl. Mix on low until combined. Stopping to scrape down the sides occasionally. Continue mixing on medium speed until dough starts to pull into a ball. Add water if too dry, flour if too sticky. Run on medium speed to knead dough about 8-10 minutes. Stop occasionally and pull dough off the hook and set to mixing again. When smooth, coat a bowl with olive oil, place dough inside and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rest one hour. (Refrigerate if not preparing right away.) When ready to prepare, divide dough in two parts. Knead lightly and dust with flour. Run through pasta maker** to flatten, first on the thickest setting, then progressively thinner to desired size. Add flour to surface of dough as needed. Cut into desired shapes. Dry on a wooden rack if you have one, or lie them flat for 10-15 minutes. Boil a big pot of water and salt generously. (Salty as the sea, I have heard it said.) Boil for 2-3 minutes depending on the thickness of your pasta. Drain and return to pot. Serve immediately with alfredo.

*Flour Note: Using a food scale to weigh .4 pounds semolina flour and .65 all-purpose flour 
If you don't have a food scale, you could start with 1 c. semolina and 2-1/3 c. all-purpose flour

**Pasta Maker:  I use a Marcato Atlas 150 Stainless Steel Manual Pasta Maker. It's hand cranked but it gives you all the control over speed and pressure. Safer on fingers than a mixer attachment.