Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Spaghetti and Meatballs (WCJO-DS)

Let me just say, right now, that this recipe is a cheat. Yes, it's very easy to do and yes, it also appears in one of Jamie's books and yes, it's a good recipe for teaching kids how to cook, but it's still a cheat. And when you look at the ingredients, you'll see why.

Ingredients: Canned tomatoes, check. (At this time of year, they've got more flavour than fresh tomatoes anyway.) Basil, check. Onion, check. (The recipe calls for red onions, but I substituted a white, which works fine.) Garlic, check. Italian sausages ...

Whoa there. I thought we were doing meatballs, what's going on here?

Techniques: Oh. I see. You snip off one end of the sausage, squeeze out some of the meat, and that becomes the meatball.

And that's why it's a cheat. It's not your meatball that you're preparing here; it's the butcher's meatball that you're proposing to serve. In essence, this falls into the same class as using those frozen, pre-packaged meatballs at the supermarket; yes, technically it's still home cooking, but you don't have as much personally invested in the dish.

Another point: rather than getting browned in a frypan, the recipe calls for the sausage meat to be simmered in the sauce. Which might explain a peculiarity of this particular recipe.

You see, it calls for adding a cup and a half of water to the stewing tomatoes. I don't know about you, but that strikes me as resulting in a very watery sauce, which may be how the British like their spaghetti, but personally I like something a bit thicker.

So instead of water, I used red wine: a cheap Italian sangiovese. The result was something a little (actually, a lot) darker than my usual pasta sauce attempts, but it might still be appetizing.

Results: Well, the butcher's meatballs turned out pretty well, good texture to the bite. The rest of the sauce was still a lot thinner than I would have preferred; I think that next time, I'll add another can of tomatoes instead of the water.

Wait a moment. I've still got a lot of recipes in both WCJO and PTC to get through; what makes me think there's going to be a next time?

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