Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Slow Cooker Meatballs

Tender meatballs in tomato sauce cooked in a slow cooker.


When my husband is away I don't like to cook very often.  I'm just not inspired to make big dinners when they are just for me.  While I don't mind cooking less it's not great for the blog.  I've only been blogging for a relatively short time and do not have a lot of posts and pictures built up for uninspired days.  Luckily, I had a genius idea (at least I thought so) I would make a dish that was simple, big, and I wouldn't mind eating all week.  My genius idea was meatballs.  I  haven't had spaghetti and meatballs in a very long time, and I have never actually made them before so I was challenged and excited to try them.  I searched a favorite blog (Italian Food Forever) and found a great and simple recipe for meatballs.  I followed this basic recipe but used a slow cooker to let the sauce cook all day.

Ingredients:

Sauce

1 medium onion, sliced
6-8 cloves garlic
2 cans diced tomatoes (14oz each)
3-4 oz tomato paste (a little over 1/4 cup)
1/4  cup brandy, optional
1-2 cup fresh basil
2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp beef bullion
salt and pepper to taste

Meatballs

1 pound ground meat (beef and pork part Italian sausage would be great)
1 thick slice soft bread
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
2 Tbsp parmasean
1 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste


Toss the onion slices and garlic cloves with some olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Lay out on a baking sheet and roast in 350F oven for about 20 minutes until tender and fragrant.  Meanwhile, add the canned tomatoes (and their liquid), tomato paste, brandy, (I learned on an episode of Good Eats that tomatoes benefit from the addition of alcohol, apparently it brings out flavor that you do not get without) beef bullion, and spices to a blender.  When the onion and garlic are roasted add them to the blender as well.  Puree the mixture until smooth then pour into the slow cooker.  Cook on low heat for about 5 hours.

Mix the meatballs.  Soak the bread in milk until it is absorbed and the bread is very soft (you could also soak the bread in a red wine I bet that would be great I just didn't have any).  Mix all of the meatball ingredients together until thoroughly combined.  Roll into golf ball size or slightly smaller pieces (makes 20-24).

Gently  drop the meatballs into the sauce in the slow cooker.  Turn heat to high and cook for at least 2 hours longer (do not stir until about 1 hour after adding the meatballs or they will break apart).

Cook pasta of your choice and serve meatballs and sauce over pasta.  Makes about 8 servings.

The great thing about meatballs is that they taste even better the next day, and there are many ways to change them up so it's not the same dinner night after night.  I put them on top of cheese toast
and I plan to make pizza and a meatball sub later.  Check back in to see these other uses for meatballs. Enjoy.

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