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    Notes - October 24, 2013

    Photo: (L to R) Mark Donaldson, Chris Churchill and Brad Barker pontificating on all things wine and music

    Once a month, Chris Churchill, Mark Donaldson and Brad Barker educate and entertain us as they talk about what is happening in the world of fine wine and music. And of course, they drink while they entertain. On the latest episode Chris and Mark joined Brad to talk about Fog Head Reserve Pinot Noir, Mandrarossa Cartagho, Waimea Viognier and Grove Street Cabernet Sauvignon.

    Have a listen!


    Sign up now for the Imbiber’s Report! Impress friends and family with your knowledge of wine. Attend an exclusive Portfolio Tasting in May. Plus be on the lookout for your chance to be a guest Sommelier on Notes with Brad Barker, Chris Churchill and Mark Donaldson.

    Spaghetti and Meatballs

    This fall classic is quite a bit of work, but more than worth the effort. Following this method, the whole meal can leisurely come together in couple of hours. Sometimes, we’ll double the meatball recipe and freeze half away for future use.  One standard package of Spaghetti will feed 6 people. Leftover (hahaha) meatballs make amazing sandwiches.

    A few words regarding the method (little tricks that will make things easier).
    Adding garlic after cooking the onions for a couple of minutes will prevent the garlic from burning (and turning bitter). 
    If you want to add wine to ‘deglaze’ the tomato paste and onion from the pan bottom – make sure to reduce the wine by half before adding the tomatoes. 
    When adding the tomato sauce to the pasta pot – do it in the sink, to minimize the splatter. Return to medium heat on the stove and add pasta and pasta water to cook.
    Try to use fresh herbs if possible – chop them finely together. If you can’t get fresh, use a combined amount of 1 ½ tablespoons of dried.
    We preheat the serving platter/bowl, along with the serving plates, so that everything stays really hot.  We coarsely grate Parmigiano-Reggiano over the entire dish before serving and have some finely grated cheese on the side.

    Old school measuring – most recipes measure the meat in ounces - this one would be 6oz of beef and veal and 8oz of pork (many ‘authentic’ recipes call for half a pound of each meat – but it makes for a tight fit in the pan and for dryer meatballs – the extra pork keeps them moist). The metric measure makes two extra ounces of meat, which won’t make a difference.

    Sauce ingredients:

    2 x 796 ml tins of crushed tomatoes (or whole peeled tomatoes crushed though a food mill)
    1 large yellow onion, chopped
    3 medium cloves garlic crushed and chopped
    1 tsp. fresh oregano and 1 tsp. fresh rosemary finely chopped together
    1 bay leaf
    1 Tbs. tomato paste
    1/2 cup olive oil
    1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
    Kosher salt

    Make the sauce:

    In a large (4L or bigger) saucepan heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, oregano, rosemary and bay leaf stirring often for 3 minutes. Add garlic and stir until onion is soft 5 to 7 minutes.

    Add tomato paste and stir constantly for 3 minutes or until paste darkens (optional wine addition here). Add the tomatoes, stirring to scrape onion and paste off the bottom of the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer sauce for 45 minutes, stirring frequently (the sauce needs to be lightly bubbling).

    Remove bay leaf, season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to keep warm.

    While the sauce is simmering – make the meatballs.

    Meatball ingredients:

    1 Tbs. olive oil
    250g  ground pork
    200g lean ground beef
    200g ground veal
    1 cup coarse fresh white breadcrumbs
    1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta
    2 large eggs
    2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
    1 Tbs. chopped fresh oregano
    1/2 tsp. freshly ground fennel seed
    1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
    Kosher salt

    Make the meatballs:

    Preheat oven to 450F

    Oil the bottom of a baking dish 20cm x 20cm (8 inch x 8 inch)

    In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix gently and thoroughly .

    Use a 2oz ice cream scoop or equivalent to make 16  golf-ball sizes meatballs.

    Wet your hands with warm water to shape the balls.

    Arrange the meatballs in the baking dish – there shouldn’t be any room left in the dish – and bake for 12 minutes.

    Remove the meatballs from the oven and drain off excess fat.

    Ladle half of the sauce over the meatballs and return to the oven. Bake for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and keep warm.

    Cook the pasta:

    In a large pot bring 4-6 litres of water to a rolling boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt.

    Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally. Cook the pasta for two minutes less than the instructions on the package. Drain the pasta, saving one cup of pasta water.

    Pour the remaining sauce into the pasta pot, add pasta and the reserved water, stirring for another 2-3 minutes over medium heat until spaghetti is al dente.

    Carefully transfer the pasta to a large heated serving bowl or platter, top with meatballs and their sauce and serve immediately.

    Freshly grated Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese can be served as a side or added over meatballs.

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