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Meatballs with tomato sauce

August 19, 2009

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Serves 8

These pork and beef meatballs are simmered in a lightly cooked tomato sauce. Don’t let the sauce boil hard or the meatballs will shrivel up and become tough. The best way to check the temperature is with a meat thermometer; cooked meatballs should read 160 degrees (but not more).

SAUCE

1 can (16 ounces) whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, halved
6 fresh basil leaves
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
1. Work the tomatoes through a food mill into a bowl or pulse them gently in a food processor; set aside.

2. In a large, wide, flameproof casserole over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and basil. Cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes; do not let the garlic brown.

3. Turn the heat to medium high. Add the tomatoes, salt, and red pepper. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer the sauce for 30 minutes.

4. Remove the garlic cloves from the sauce. Taste the sauce for seasoning and add more salt or red pepper, if you like.

MEATBALLS

1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1 1/4 cups unseasoned bread crumbs
1 cup grated pecorino Romano
1 cup whole milk
4 eggs
1/2 cup olive oil
Handful fresh basil leaves, torn (not chopped)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Extra pecorino (for serving)
Extra fresh basil, torn (for serving)
1. In a colander under cold running water, rinse the beef and pork. Let them drain thoroughly, stirring gently occasionally to help them drain well.

2. In a bowl, combine the bread crumbs, pecorino, milk, and eggs. Mix well. Set aside for 10 minutes so the bread crumbs absorb the liquid.

3. In a small skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil, basil, garlic, oregano, red pepper, and salt. Let the mixture bubble gently for 2 minutes; do not let the garlic brown.

4. Add the garlic mixture and meat to the bread crumb mixture and mix together with your hands. Form the mixture into 24 balls about 2 1/2 inches each.

5. Bring the tomato sauce to a boil. Gently drop in the balls, one at a time. Let the sauce return to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

6. In 6 shallow bowls, spoon some of the tomato sauce. Add meatballs to each one and garnish with pecorino Romano and basil. Adapted from Il Casale

Meatballs Meatballs are simmered in a San Marzano tomato sauce. (Essdras M. Suarez, Globe Staff)