There should be a "What you planned for dinner only to have your daughter come home and tell you there is a fund raiser for her school at Chick-fil-A and that's where we need to eat tonight" thread considering that's what happened! She was so panicked, she didn't talk to me she had to text the DW and get her to tell me. For the record........I couldn't make that story up on a good day!
Now, I'm sitting here posting waiting for my dinner to come home in an hour instead of sitting down to this in 10 minutes! Doohhh!!!!
That being said, I put together a rather elaborate post for the dinner thread to showcase some different procedures for ya'll and now we're eating Chick-fil-A. Actually, all things being what they are, when I do that much prep, I end up tasting throughout the process and rarely end up eating the meal. I've already had one meatball, about a cup of sauce, a salads worth of the tomato chunks (man they are good) and several leaves of the basil and some cheese with the tomato .
This way it sits a day, the flavors come together even more and we all can enjoy the meal together.
Anyhow, it was to have been an old Italian family peasant style dinner of string beans, potatoes and meatballs.
Starting things off are some of the main ingredients; (from left to right clockwise) new potatoes, Flat-leaf parsley, Campari Tomatoes, fresh sweet basil, red onion, Romano cheese, 80% ground chuck, 90% ground sirloin, roasted garlic (garlic was going bad and had to do something with it) and an egg. Items not pictured are bread crumbs and the green beans. Fresh beans at the store were great yesterday but today in horrible shape and had to opt for frozen.
Here is the start of the meatballs.There is fresh ground black pepper in there somewhere.
Meatballs portioned out at 2.5 ounces. Only did 9 for since there are only three of us. The remainder of the meatball mix will be used for grilled meatball parm sands this weekend
Diced red onion can be random but try not to have pieces larger than 1/2". I try to keep things 3/8 or smaller. This way you have bits that remain in the sauce but nothing too prevalent.
Sweat the onions in olive oil until they start to turn translucent. This is where I would normally add the raw garlic but since I made roasted garlic, it was added in place. You don't need to cook as long with the roasted paste.
Incorporate well cook for an additional 15-20 minutes stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Remove from heat and set aside for use later. If I was using canned tomatoes, I would add them here.
Because I was using fresh campari tomatoes, I opted to make a sauce for finish cooking the meatballs. It's important to finish them in the sauce and cooking the fresh tomatoes that long would have voided the reason I used fresh. The sauce is basically the same as above but differs with canned tomatoes.
PFG/Roma has a brand of super concentrated California tomatoes I absolutely recommend using but since they are a purveyor and not on every-ones purchase ability (or needs a case of 6-#10 cans) 6 in 1 is a solid substitute.
Here is the sauce just prior to adding meatballs. Because of cooking un-covered with the meatballs, do not adjust seasoning until it's complete. Also, add a little more water to the mix. Yes it's more "soupy" than what you'd like to see finished but it will cook down and even before that, it's not near as bad as the finished chunky ketchup and water mix at some places I've visited.
Meatballs out of the oven and directly into the sauce.
I added some Basil here since normally, if we're having pasta, I would sacrifice some of the main batch (fresh or canned tomatoes) to cook the meatballs. The meatballs need the basil too!
This cooks for about 2 hours. It's really not as much a waste as most people would think since this will also serve as another meal down the road. Because this is so thick, it's what I use for my Bolognese or Ragu
Fresh Tomato Sauce
I divided the tomatoes into two batches; one for puree and one for dice.
These are the puree tomatoes. Place in covered sauce pan with no additional liquid. Heat over low/medium flame to just soften the tomatoes. I hate to puree fresh tomatoes since you often need to go back and hit again. This way I get them to a point where I can control them to be almost between a ground and crushed product.
Here are the diced tomatoes draining. If you're wondering about seeding, I don't bother. There is so much flavor lost when this is done and it takes away from the earthy flavor of the dish. Anyhow, I've always been this way and it wasn't until recently I found a good way to explain it. Granted he was talking about raw, uncooked tomatoes but it was something Jose Andres said about nature providing the perfect example of culinary art. . The only thing is we remove this and then we try to re-create with ingredients. I think he was speaking about the gel, almost aspic like portion of the tomato since that's what he was eating when he explained this.
Puree the lightly cooked tomatoes. Don't go too far or this gets too airy and off color.
Potatoes are quartered and then par boiled. You can keep the potatoes whole but this requires a longer cook time (remember fresh tomatoes) and I like the way they break-down some in the sauce.
The potatoes are added to the sauce with the meatballs and things are finished for 40 minutes at a very low simmer. That is the total cook time for the tomatoes and they retain a very nice color and flavor.
Typically I would have added the fresh, chopped basil just before service and then ladled the mix over the string (green) beans. Serve with your favorite crusty ciabatta and enjoy.
Add chopped Basil and strir in quickly. Don't let the basil sit on top too long or it will turn color. It should remain a vibrant green in the sauce. Remove from heat.
Place your blanched green beans in a large pasta bowl. I've cut them in half to make it easier to eat. Season with salt and pepper.
Top with grated Romano Cheese, Add a meatball (or two if you wish) and top with a nice ladle full of the potatoes and sauce.
Sprinkle with a touch more Romano and enjoy.
Edited by oldschool1982 - 6/6/14 at 3:57pm