Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spaghetti and Chicken Meatballs

I wanted some comfort food this week. Can't get any better than spaghetti and meatballs can it? noooooooope :P

I've never really attempted to make own sauce for spaghetti but have always felt that jarred sauce was VERY inadequate. I always add spices and veggies and a gazillion other things to canned sauce to make it taste more up to my standards. So I wondered what would happen if I started with canned tomatoes as a base? Maybe it would taste even better than my jazzed up jar sauce because it could be all my own!

 Sorry about the picture I forgot to take one before I started cooking so the cans are already opened!
I got the fire roasted tomatoes because I love the smokey flavor they have. I just dumped in 4 cans, and 2 small cans of tomato paste. About 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce, half a tube of herb paste (cause it's all I had), and salt and pepper. I put this on the stove at about noon, brought it to a boil then turned it down to low and let it simmer for a few hours. I checked it and gave it a stir at around 2pm. I also tasted it and decided that it needed more flavor so I added about 1 TBSP dried thyme, 1 TBSP dried oregano, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and some more salt and pepper. It's amazing how much the flavor had changed just from simmering for 2 hours! after my addition of the few extra seasonings it was already tasting great.

You also might be wondering why I added Worcestershire sauce to my tomatoes. Well my mom tried it first just on a whim one day when we felt our sauce needed an indefinable "something" and it really added something amazing. The way it interacted with the tomato flavor was great. I also learned it is an ingredient in a bloody Mary and heard from Alton Brown on the show Good eats that combining tomato and Worcestershire sauce creates umami (your fifth basic taste from the Japanese word meaning pleasant savoriness). Basically it makes it YUMMY! :P

I ground my own chicken from a bag of defrosted frozen chicken breasts. For more info on how I did that check out the chicken burgers I made a few weeks ago. To the ground chicken I added 1 egg and 2 egg whites, about 1 cup of bread crumbs, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, 2 tsp dried thyme and oregano, then mixed them up and formed balls. Put them on cookie sheets and baked them at 350 for about 15 minutes.

Then I used an immersion blender on my sauce. I wanted to leave it with some texture but not as chunky as the canned tomatoes. Then I added in my meatballs, put the lid back on the pot and let that continue to simmer till dinner time.

I made whole wheat noodles because hey, they're healthy and they taste good.

Our veggie was fresh brussel sprouts. Basically I just peeled off the outer couple of leafs till it looked nice and clean. Cut off the bottom and then quarter them. Then I put them in the pan with about 1 cup of water with the lid on and brought to a boil, let them simmer for a few minutes and then took the lid off to let the water evaporate. After the pan was dry I added 1 tsp of butter (you only need a little bit to add flavor and help the salt ect stick) 1 tsp of garlic powder, and salt and pepper.

This meal was great. It was warm, comforting, filling, savory goodness! And my homemade sauce was WAY better than any can sauce has ever been so this is the new way I'll be doing it for sure :)

What I would do differently next time: I think I might not bake the meatballs because they were a little bit dry. I think I would put them into the sauce in batches to cook. I have a feeling this would make them more tender and help the tomato flavor get soaked up into them even more. Other than that, this meal was great!

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