Baked Meatball Extravaganza

For Sauce:
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tbl. extra virgin olive oil
Optional: ½ cup red wine (just skip it if you don’t want to use it)
1 can (28 oz.) diced or crushed San Marzano tomatoes
1 cup vegetable stock
2 tsps. dried oregano

For Meatballs:
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
1½ cups breadcrumbs
big handful of parsley
½ tsp. kosher salt
2 lbs. ground beef
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese

For sauce, cook onion in olive oil until completely softened. Stir in red wine, if using. Simmer, uncovered, to reduce for 5 minutes. Add stock, bring to a boil and simmer gently, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and oregano, cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes. (30 minutes won’t hurt.)

For the meatballs, if you need to process the Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs, do it before adding any of the other ingredients and then set them aside. Process parsley until chopped. Add back in the Parm and breadcrumbs along with the salt and chopped onion, and pulse until mixed. Add contents of the food processor to ground meat in a large bowl. Mix until combined well. Form 24 meat balls. (I use a scant ¼ cup for each meatball.)

Spray a large nonstick pan with nonstick spray and sauté the meatballs in two batches - about 3 minutes on each side on medium heat should do it. Remove the meatballs from the pan and deglaze the pan with a bit of the tomato sauce to pick up more flavor. Stir that tomato sauce back into the big batch. Place meatballs in greased round or rectangular baking dish. Cover with sauce. Sprinkle over shredded mozzarella Place on a foil-covered baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 375°F. oven for 25 minutes or until hot and bubbling enthusiastically. Serve with spaghetti. (Reserve a bit of the sauce to toss with the spaghetti, if desired.)
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