Sunday, August 2, 2009

Wolfgang Puck's Special Spaghetti and Meatballs

This is adapted from Live, Love, Eat! a Wolfgang Puck cookbook that I received as a Christmas gift from our neighbors in 2003. It has become one of my more used cookbooks because it is not just a collection of recipes. It teaches you HOW to do certain techniques, such as the difference between a julienne and a chiffonade. I like Joy of Cooking for the same reason. I recommend it and you can still buy it at the link posted.

I admit this was a partial "fail" and it's my fault. I thought that I would cook the meatballs on the Big Green Egg and then put them in the sauce to simmer. I didn't add wood and only used lump coal, but the end result was that the smoky meatballs were a distraction, not an addition to the overall dish. It was still good but next time I'd just simmer them in the sauce as called for.

Wolfgang Puck's Special Spaghetti and Meatballs
Serves 6 to 8

4 T butter, unsalted (1/2 stick)
1 ea medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced [*1]
4 slices Italian bread, crusts discarded, cut into small dice
1/4 c whole milk
2 pounds lean ground veal [*2]
1 ea egg, slightly beaten
1/4 c parmesan cheese, freshly grated [*3]
1 T parsley, fresh chopped
1 T basil, fresh chopped
1 t thyme, fresh
1 t salt
1 t sugar
1/4 t black pepper, fresh ground
5 c "My Favorite Tomato Sauce" (see recipe)
1 pound dried spaghetti

Saute the onion and garlic in the butter until soft but not browned. Remove and let this cool. We put ours in the freezer for about 10 minutes because we were in a hurry.

Make a panade by combing the milk and bread in a large mixing bowl.

Add the onion mixture, ground meat, egg, cheese, spices and herbs to the mixing bowl. Mix it together to get it fully tossed but try not to overwork it.

Rinse your hands with cold water and roll 1/8th of the mixture into a large even meatball. These are going to be big, almost baseball sized. Repeat to get a total of 8 huge balls.Heat the tomato sauce in a large pot. Once it is simmering, lower the meatballs [*4] into the sauce. Adding the cold balls to the sauce will drop the heat. Once it's back to simmering, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes. Meanwhile cook the spaghetti noodles.

Remove the meatballs from the sauce. Mix the sauce with the cooked noodles and divide into 8 bowls. Top each with a meatball, some fresh chopped basil, and shaved parmesan reggiano.

Wolfgang Puck's Favorite Tomato Sauce
makes 5 cups
1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
2 small onions, peeled, trimmed & minced
6 cloves garlic, minced [*1]
2 T tomato paste
4 lbs roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced[*5]
2 c chicken broth
16 ea basil leaves, washed, dried, and chopped into a chiffonade
12 T unsalted butter, cut into T sized pieces

Saute the onion in the olive oil over medium high heat for about 5 minutes until soft. Add garlic and keep cooking for another minute.

Add the tomato paste and tomatoes, cook for another 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock. Simmer briskly for about 20-30 minutes, waiting for the sauce to thicken. The book recommends passing through a sieve for a finer consistency. I just stuck in an immersion blender.

Stir in the basil. Whisk in the butter, piece by piece (yeah, I know, seemed odd to me but it worked).

Season to taste with salt and pepper.Our substitutions:
[1] - used roasted garlic that we made (as taught by the book in another section)
[2] - used 1 lb each of ground beef and ground pork
[3] - used parmigiano reggiano instead
[4] - this is where I erred by cooking them on the grill first.
[5] - used technique showed in the "basics" section of the book to make Tomato Concasse

It was a solid dish, but next time, I'd add oregano, bay leaf, and some red pepper flakes to the tomato sauce, just because that's what we like.