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As you know, Rob & I live in Southwest Florida year-round. We have lots of friends down here who are “seasonal” (spending six-months in Florida, generally from November thru April and the remainder elsewhere) and don’t do much cooking while they’re here. So…because I love cooking and enjoy entertaining…guess what? Yelp! We have a constant flow of dinner guests which we thoroughly enjoy. Eating dinner out has never really been our thing; especially during “season”. Too crowded, too pricey and reservations only available at 5:00 or 9:00. Who needs it? And frankly, the food isn’t that great. Rob likes to say, “Southwest Florida is one of those places where people stand in line and pay too much for mediocre food.”
Directly across the street from us live Tom and Mary, seasonal friends who hail from Wisconsin. We have a great time together even if we don’t agree politically. (POLITICAL CONVERSATIONS NOT ALLOWED). Recently, we invited them over one evening when I prepared spaghetti with veal and porcini meatballs…a different twist on the well-known Italian dish. My recipe has giant meatballs served in a large bowl with my homemade Marinara Sauce and lots of grilled dipping bread. I was amazed that neither of them had ever had veal. My small All-Clad skillet once again took center stage as I began creating the dish by sauteing a large minced shallot. Within minutes the wonderful aroma filled the kitchen.
Spaghetti with Veal and Porcini Meatballs
- 1/3 cup Covita extra-virgin oil
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 1/4 cup skim milk
- 3 slices firm-textured bread, crusts removed
- 1 1/2 pounds lean Strauss organic ground veal
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 3/4 teaspoons finely chopped Rock Garden fresh organic rosemary
- 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Morton Kosher Salt and McCormick freshly ground pepper
- 3/4 cup pure Colavita extra virgin olive oil, for frying
- About 1/2 cup Pillsbury all-purpose flour, for dusting
- 1 lb Barilla Spaghetti pasta
- In a small All-Clad skillet, sauté shallots
- In a large bowl, combine the milk with 1/4 cup of the reserved porcini liquid. Add the bread and let stand until the liquid is absorbed. Add the veal, egg, parsley, 1 1/4 teaspoons of salt, a scant 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and the mushroom mixture and knead gently until evenly combined.
- With lightly moistened hands, roll the veal mixture into thirty-two 3-inch meatballs. Set them on a wax paper-lined tray and chill until firm, about 15 minutes.
- Heat the pure olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet until shimmering. Dust the meatballs lightly with the flour, shaking off the excess. Add half of the meatballs to the skillet and cook over moderate heat until golden all over, about 8 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to a rack set in a baking dish and cook the remaining meatballs; discard the oil.
- Combine the remaining 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil and the onion in a large enameled cast-iron casserole. Cook over moderate heat until the onion is softened and just beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme and the remaining 1 teaspoon of rosemary and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock and the remaining porcini liquid and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the tomatoes and their juices, season with salt, pepper and the sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderately low and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 1 hour.
- Add the meatballs to the marinara sauce and simmer just until cooked thoroughly, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta well, transfer to a large serving bowl and toss with a little of the tomato sauce. Spoon the meatballs on top of the pasta, pour the remaining sauce over and serve.