Saturday, March 08, 2008

Family Favorites: Sicilian Meatballs

Recipe source: Rachael Ray

With two kids under the age of three, meals at restaurants are rare (hence the fits and starts to this blog). But we are experimenting a lot with food and new recipes, and this recipe has quickly become a family favourite. So in lieu of restaurant reviews, I'm offering a look at the recipes we love to cook.

My husband came across this recipe while at work. He has a TV in his office (for work purposes mind you) and while cruising the channels, he caught a glimpse of Danny DeVito. Being a fan of DD, he stopped to watch (our tax dollars, hard at work ;-)). Danny was showing Rachael Ray his recipe for Sicilian Meatballs.

I'm glad he stopped. These are no ordinary meatballs. The size of baseballs, they include tasty ingredients like currants, parsley and pine nuts. Smother them with crushed tomatoes (in juice) and they are incredibly delicious!

We've made the meatballs many times over the past month, and each time, they've been different (explanation: the list of ingredients seems long. we read it off the computer screen in our kitchen. the kids demand attention. we lose our concentration. voila!)Our key ingredients are pine nuts, currants, and extra parsley. And lots of tomatoes.

The recipe suggests serving a salad and a basil/black pepper/ricotta mix alongside. We tried it once, but it didn't go over so well (both the salad and the ricotta mix). Instead, we serve it with rotini pasta, a family staple.

It's recipes like this that keep me from becoming a complete vegetarian.

Danny Devito's Sicilian Meatballs (our version)

The main differences between the recipe posted here and the one on RR's site is that we dropped the pinch of red pepper flakes (lima bean doesn't like spicy) as well as the salad and ricotta side.

4-5 slices of bread, torn up
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cans tomatoes (28 ounces)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds ground sirloin
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1 teaspoon allspice
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted and chopped
1/4 cup currants
1 egg

Pre-heat the oven to 425ºF.

In a small bowl, place torn up bread and pour milk over it; set aside to soak.

Drizzle a good amount of EVOO into a roasting pan, then pour in the two cans of tomatoes and crush them up with your hands or a potato masher. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and set aside while you prepare the meatballs.

In a large bowl, combine ground sirloin, garlic, parsley, grated Parmigiano Reggiano, allspice, red pepper flakes, pine nuts, currants and the egg and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Squeeze out excess milk from the soaking bread (it should be loose and in small pieces), add it to the meat mixture and mix everything with your hands to combine.

Form 12 baseball-size balls, each about 2 1/2 inches in diameter, and place them on top of the mashed tomatoes in the roasting pan. Transfer to the oven and roast until the meatballs are brown and cooked through, about 30 minutes.

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