Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fennel and White Wine Meatballs

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It seems like The Kid asks for spaghetti and meatballs for dinner every day. I would love to oblige, but I ate a lot of jarred sauce in my early 20's. At this stage in my life, I like to have adult meals every once in a while. So I made these Fennel and White Wine meatballs the last time The Kid asked for "sketti." And guess what--she loved them as much as I did.

To make the meatballs, I used ground pork and some Italian sausage.

Pork and fennel go really well together.

I put a bunch of garlic cloves and some onion in my food processor and chopped them up finely.

Then they were added to the meat mixture.

Some hot pepper flakes will wake your taste buds up (but don't worry, these meatballs aren't super spicy, I promise!)

And of course, some fennel is added, because these are fennel meatballs. For optimum flavor, toast the seeds in a hot, dry pan before adding them.

And, as always, don't forget to add salt and pepper.

An egg will bind your meatballs together.

As will some breadcrumbs.

Regular breadcrumbs would have been more traditional--unfortunately, I was all out and Panko crumbs were all I had. Worked out okay though.

Drizzle in about half a small bottle of white wine. You know those little bottles that they sell in 4-packs? Yeah, those. You'll need two of those for this recipe in total. Or just buy a big bottle of wine and measure it manually.

Finally, some olive oil will add some moisture and richness to your meatballs.

Remove any jewelry you don't want to gunk up with meat, and start mixing!

Wash your hands well and pour some olive oil into a large pot.

Form your meat mixture into meatballs.

Then (very, very carefully!) drop them into the hot oil.

Now, here's the thing about these meatballs. They're very, very delicate. If you're the person who likes to touch their food constantly, open the oven to check on baked goods every couple of minutes, etc., I would put someone else in charge of these meatballs. You need to let them form a nice crust before flipping them, or they'll fall apart.

And flip them carefully. I used my little spatula to slowly lift them, making sure that there was no sticking (if they're sticking, just let them cook a bit longer.) Then slowly roll them over.

You'll also want to make sure that you have plenty of room to flip the meatballs, since there will be no lifting and moving them to other parts of the pot until they're completely crusty on the outsides.

When all your meatballs are golden brown on the outside, carefully remove them and put them in a bowl or plate and set them aside for later.

Oh, and if some of your meatballs break, don't sweat it--they'll melt into the tomato sauce and will ust make it more hearty and delicious.

So anyway, once your meatballs have vacated the pan, add more olive oil if necessary. You'll need it to saute some onions and garlic.

Once the onions and garlic have soaked up the meat bits and are softened, pour in the remaining wine. The rest of the bottle from before, and another whole bottle (and remember, we're talking mini bottles here!)

I decided to use a can of tomato sauce and a can of diced tomatoes in the sauce.

Pour the tomatoes in. Sauce first.

Then diced.

To tie the meatball flavors to the sauce, both have white wine and fennel seeds.

Stir the sauce together and then add the meatballs back in to the pot.

Cover and let the sauce poach the meatballs for at least half an hour.

That should give you the perfect amount of time to make some spaghetti to serve under your sauce and meatballs! Long noodles are great for this--the sauce is on the thinner side, but the noodles absorb it so well that you get the taste of tomato in every bite.

Recipe: Fennel and White Wine Meatballs

1 lb. ground pork
1/2 lb. ground sausage
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 large onion, peeled
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 egg
2/3 c. bread crumbs
1/2 c. white wine (about 1/2 a small bottle)
1 tbsp. olive oil
olive oil, for frying

Recipe: Fennel and White Wine Tomato Sauce:
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 1/2 bottles white wine (about a cup and a half)
1 can tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
2 tsp. fennel seeds

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