Thursday, August 23, 2012

Now you too can make Gino's Famous Meatballs

Whilst we were in New York, our host, Garin, was kind enough to pass down a recipe to me he learned once upon a time from a large Long Island Italian man named Gino. There are a few things I really like about this recipe. The first is that it isn't written down anywhere and there are no precise measurements, so you'll have to use your instincts. The second is that it's resourceful and simple and though it tastes like it's from scratch, it doesn't have to be completely, which allows you to save time. Now, if you have a tomato sauce recipe that was passed down from your great grandma and you swear by it alone even though it takes you a week to brew it up, so be it. You can use that recipe with this ignoring the sauce part.

The first order of business: make the base of all the things. For this meal you'll be making sauce, meatballs, and garlic bread. There are a few key ingredients that go in all of these, so you can blend them all together at once in the very beginning. Into a food processor, throw a lot of peeled garlic cloves (AT LEAST one whole head), a torn-up bunch of italian parsley, and parmesan cheese.
Your mixture should look like this. Now it's time to get the sauce started. Take about a third of this mixture and throw it in the bottom of a large stockpot on medium heat with some butter, olive oil, and diced onions. Let that simmer until the onions begin to turn translucent, making sure not to let the garlic burn.
The visual how-to continues after the jump!

You can use a couple jars of a good quality marinara sauce and just spruce it up with this. Also purchase a can of whole stewed tomatoes. Right before you add your sauce, drop in a few bay leaves. One at a time, with clean hands, squeeze the stewed tomatoes into the pot until they break into large chunks to give it some texture. Pour in your jars of sauce. Add seasoning and stir. Bring sauce to a smooth simmer, never letting anything stick to the bottom while it cooks.
Now it's time to turn our attention to the meatballs. You're going to need around 2 lbs. of ground beef, at least. Put this in a bowl with some salt and pepper. Add another third of the base parsley mixture to the bowl. Also add breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and two eggs. Then, with clean hands, form the mixture into meatballs, being sure not to pack them very hard and to leave them airy. Drop these one by one into the simmering sauce, being sure not to let them touch each other while raw. Once you're done, give it all a gentle stir and let it return to it's simmer.
The meatballs will take at least a half hour to cook in the sauce, but it's best to give it as much time as you possibly can. You can walk away from this while it cooks, just make sure the heat's not up too high and try to stir it at least once every 20 minutes or so. While this is cooking, prep the garlic bread. Take a loaf of italian bread and make slices across it, but not all the way through. You basically are making incisions in the bread. Fill each of these with a slice of butter and use the rest of the base parsley mixture in the slices. Then wrap the bottom in foil. Slide it in the oven at 350° about 15 minutes before you're ready to eat.
Cook up your favorite pasta according to the directions on the package. In this case, we used bucatini. Serve yourself a healthy portion, cover it with sauce and meatballs, and garnish with parmesan and any leftover chopped parsley. Tear off a hunk of warm garlic bread and enjoy this large italian feast with family or friends. -Hil

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