Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
Using a trio of meats is perfect for these tender meatballs. Beef adds hearty flavor, while pork and veal provide a natural sweetness. Include an equal amount of each for the perfect blend. Unlike most recipes that call for browning the meatballs, this one braises them in an herbed tomato sauce. The meatballs and sauce can be prepared a day ahead, refrigerated and reheated before serving.
- 2 lb. mixed ground beef, pork and veal
- 1 egg
- 2 yellow onions, 1 finely chopped and 1 chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs or panko
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
- 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano cheese
- 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 Tbs. chopped fresh oregano
- 3 Tbs. chopped fresh basil
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes in puree
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
In a large bowl, combine the ground meats, egg, the finely chopped onion, the bread crumbs, pine nuts, cheese, parsley, oregano, 1 Tbs. of the basil, the salt and pepper. Using your hands, gently but thoroughly blend the ingredients. Form the mixture into meatballs about 2 inches in diameter. Set aside.
In a small Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the chopped onion and sauté until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Stir in the diced tomatoes and wine and bring to a boil. Drop the meatballs into the sauce, gently spooning the sauce over them. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook until the meatballs are firm and cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes.
Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 Tbs. basil. Divide the meatballs and tomato sauce among warmed plates and serve immediately. Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Slow Cooking, by Melanie Barnard, Charles Pierce & Denis Kelly (Oxmoor House, 2008).