Cookbook #25: Williams Sonoma Essentials of Slow Cooking

Adapted from Cookbook #25:  Williams Sonoma Essentials of Slow Cooking

Recipe: Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

It's summer solstice. The longest day of the year.  The shortest night. Symbolically speaking, I could use these long days and some short nights. The days: a dear high school friend came to visit from North Carolina, school let out for summer, World Cup soccer launched into full force. But also the nights:  a memorial service and an unrelated but surprisingly tearful goodbye to a friend who is moving to Ohio. In other words, give me more days than nights right now.

So to cook at the midpoint of 2010, I quite simply made the homey, satisfying goodness of meatballs.

These particular meatballs are a wonderful blend of three meats (beef, pork, and veal (yes, I realize that's still cow, but work with me here)), and they braise (rather than brown) in a tomato and chipotle sauce.  And all of this from Williams Sonoma Essentials of Slow Cooking.  We nabbed this cookbook from Pegasus, the used bookstore down the street, because we own a beautiful All-Clad Slow Cooker. Sure, I make New England boiled dinner in it, and I have been known to make a mean chili. However, beyond that, the slow cooker is not really pulled out that often.  But then, I made the chicken paprika from this cookbook.  And life has never been the same since. I never knew. I just never knew.  This cookbook is worth the chicken paprika alone. But the meatballs are worth the bargain as well.

Back to the meatballs. These meatballs don't actually call for the slow cooker (some of the recipes are merely for braising, which I am a master at, so bring it on). They are spicy--the chipotle sort of guarantees this isn't an Italian kind of meal. This set of meatballs will clear out your sinuses. It will set your tongue on fire. However, truth be told, these are pretty darned fantastic. The spice. The blend of meats. A salad on the side, and you have a meal. The husband suggested a bit of french bread and, voila, a hogie, and he may be on to something here. More research will have to be performed tomorrow.

So tonight, the husband and I raised our glasses high to the summer solstice, basking in the Spain win over Honduras today, and trying to soak in the last hours of sunlight and of all that is good with 2010.

4 servings

2 lb ground beef, pork, and veal
1 egg
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs or panko
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup grates Parmesan or Romano cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh, flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, pureed
1 can (14.5 ounces) chipotle chiles in adobo
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1.  Make the meatballs:  In a large bowl, combine the ground meats, egg, onion, bread crumbs, pine nuts, cheese, parsley, oregano, basil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Using your hands, gently but thoroughly blend the ingredients.  Form the mixture into meatballs, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  Set aside.

2.  In a small Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the olive oil.  Add the onion and saute until softened, 4-5 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds.  Stir in the diced tomatoes, chipotles in adobo, and wine and bring to a boil.  Drop the meatballs into the sauce, gently spooning the sauce over them.  Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until the meatballs are firm and cooked through, 20-30 minutes.

3.  Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes.  Stir in the basil.  Divide the meatballs and tomato sauce among warmed plates and serve at once.


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