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Mama Mia! Now That's A Spicy Meatball!

by Paul Wylie (writer), , August 27, 2010

Credit: imagemax
Lions and Bears and Giants! Oh Mama Mia!

Football season is upon us, and this dish will put everyone to sleep by halftime.

Wishing to write today on a lighter subject matter than my usual rants about the social and political wrongs and evils in the world, I decided to weigh in (literally!) on the upcoming football season and give you a dish handed down thoughout the generations in Brooklyn, N.Y. There would be no true justice in the world did not a boy who grew up in the Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst areas not chime in on this critical and important matter.

Anyone not familiar with the areas mentioned above should know that the neighborhoods are predominantly Italian and Italian-American, and they are a people who take meatball making very seriously. There are no shortcuts to the meatballs themselves nor the sauce (it's called gravy in Brooklyn) that must accompany it by tradition. I'm going to give you both recipes, and if after following them you don't agree that it was one of the best, most fattening meals that you've ever had, then if you can find me, lunch will be my treat.

First and foremost, one must understand that to make true meatballs, you can not use a high grade of ground beef. The 80% grade works best due to the higher fat content allowing for the adhesive effect desired in holding the meatballs together. Lets get started by gathering the meatball ingredients together. Here's what you'll need to feed a family of four or five:

1 lb. 80% ground beef
1 lb. ground Italian sausage (Very important, if your market doesn't carry it, ask the meat dept. to grind up a pack of whole Italian sausage for you.)
1 small onion, any color, diced very small
1 green pepper, diced very small
2 eggs
2 garlic cloves, sliced thin and diced
3/4 cup of Italian style bread crumbs (If you feel ambitious, take 1/2 of a loaf of French bread, toast it, and grind it into crumbs using a food processor or cheese grater)
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. rosemary
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. marjoram
1/4 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes ( Note: This is optional, and should be included only if you like it a little spicy.)
a little worcestershire, as you like, around 2 tbsp.
a little soy sauce, again as you like, around 2 tbsp. (ahhhhh, didn't know about this, did you?)

In a large mixing bowl, put all of the above ingredients in and hand mix well. No cheating with mixers. Squish that mound of meat until your hands hurt and all the ingredients are fully integrated. If the mixture feels a little loose, add some more bread crumbs until it feels very sticky, if too dry, add another egg

To roll the meatballs up, bring the bowl close to the sink, as well as an ungreased baking pan that will hold about 20 meatballs. Turn the water on and adjust it to luke warm. Wet your hands. Pinching about a good palm full of meat, roll it with your wet hands into a perfect little ball, and place it on your baking pan. Repeat this process until all the meat mixture is rolled up. Place the pan in a 300 degree oven for 15 minutes, then turn the meatballs and cook for another 20 minutes. Take from the oven and set aside, covered. Now, you can also do this when your sauce is about 40 minutes from being done, me, I let them cool a little and stick them in the refrigerator until I'm ready to use them.

Now the sauce:

2 large cans of tomato paste, placed in a large pot, mixing in 5 cans of water. Stir thoroughly. It should be pretty thick and that's how we want it. As you gather the other ingredients together, start heating this on a medium flame until it gets hot and bubbly, then turn it down to low.

one large tomato diced (Ok, ok, go ahead and used canned diced tomatoes)
One onion, sliced or diced
one red pepper, sliced or diced
one 12 oz. box of mushrooms, sliced
3 Italian sausages, cooked, then sliced thin
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. rosemary
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. marjoram
1/4 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Into the tomato paste/water mixture that's already hot, add all of the rest of the ingredients, including the cheese. This makes it what's called a 'ragu'. Cover and let it simmer for 2 hours, stirring about every 10 minutes or so to keep it from burning. Adjust the seasonings to your taste. After 2 hours, take your meatballs and put them in your sauce. Re-cover, and let simmer for another half an hour, giving the sauce time to marry with the meat.

While the sauce is in it's last half an hour of cooking, boil up your favorite pasta. It doesn't have to be spaghetti, it can be whatever you like. I prefer angel hair, but as I said, any pasta is good. As your pasta boils, slice up 1/2 lb. of mozzarella, very thin, and set aside.

When your pasta is ready, drain it and place it in a large mixing bowl. Add 1/4 stick margarine, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, and 1 tsp. chopped parsley. Mix it all together and dish it out onto plates. Place a few slices of the mozzarella strategically on top of the pasta, and two or three meatballs on top of that. Ladle sauce so that almost all of the mozzarella is covered, (this way it will melt) and serve it up with some garlic bread, (store bought or home made), and a nice, crisp green salad, as well as some extra Parmesan for topping and what you just made is a slice of heaven that your family or your guests will love you for.

After eating this, don't be surprised if those around begin to say Italian phrases, and shun any dessert for a few hours. Some may fall asleep, but that's ok, it's just a natural occurrence after eating something this delicious. And with the kids too tired to wreak havoc, you'll be able to relax and say Mama Mia yourself! Enjoy.



About the Writer

Paul Wylie is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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3 comments on Mama Mia! Now That's A Spicy Meatball!

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By Libdrone on August 27, 2010 at 08:57 pm

That sounds just incredibly delicious. Foods that you have eaten all your life can be such a comfort. I think I will write up a piece about my favorite comfort food. Thanks for the inspiration.

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By Jack Bates on August 27, 2010 at 10:36 pm

Nothing beats a good meatball recipe! Very well written and easy to follow. I love the sports twist, too! I'll try it out next week and let you know how the family likes it!

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By Paul Wylie on August 28, 2010 at 12:26 am

Hey guys! Try to make the aroma last till 1/2 time or you'll lose your audience, haha.

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