You would think that when teaching a 13 year old to cook, I’d start with something basic like pasta or grilled cheese. I’m a fan of the Go big or go home philosophy folks, so we went with Sicilian style meatballs. It’s a recipe I found in Food & Wine September 2007 magazine, and after making once right after reading, I saved the recipe for future use. My son helped me when I first prepared them, so perhaps there was a tie to the dish. We started by reviewing the ingredient list and reading through the steps twice. It is important to understand the steps and the order in which we will use the ingredients, as well as having everything ready before we turn on the oven.
Before I give you the recipe, I will of course tell you about the wines paired with this fantastic meal. My selection was Beni di Batasiolo 2009 Sovrana Barbera D’Alba. I paired this Italian red to not only stay on theme with an Italian meal, but also because the grape pairs well with the beefy meatballs while being able to handle the acidic tomatoes. Like Ogg, I invited Brugg to break bread and share the meal. Brugg is actually my friend Kirk, who brought his red wine contribution to the meal. He chose a bottle of Heitz Cellar 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, another wine option that works well with meatballs and tomato sauce.
The Beni di Batasiolo Sovranna 2009 is a Barbera d’Alba. The barbera grape is grown in various places in in Italy, and this one is from Alba, a region in Piedmont, Italy. The bouquet is full of dark berries, violets and the oak notes of spice like cinnamon. The palate is medium to full, and dusty old world flavors come across at first. Dried strawberries and dried raspberries mingle with white pepper. It’s a full flavored wine bursting with taste. There was firm acidity on the finish of the wine, and it lends itself to be a wine to pair with food.
Heitz Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 is a Napa Valley, California wine. The bouquet is gorgeous, a sensual nose of mocha laced dark cherries. There are subtle spice notes that waft from the glass as well. The palate is full, but silky. Beautiful notes of chocolate cherries, but not sweet. The oak aging fills the glass with lovely spices.
- Two 28-oz cans of crushed Italian tomatoes
- Four slices of white bread
- 1/4 cup of water (drinking quality)
- 1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries or currants
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- Kosher salt (about 2 tablespoons)
- freshly ground pepper (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
- 4 large eggs, beaten
- 3 large cloves of garlic minced
- 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 teaspoon died marjoram
- 2 lbs ground beef (chuck)
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 2 cups vegetable oil (for frying)
In a 5 quart or larger sauce pan, pour the Italian tomatoes in and season with salt and pepper. I added about 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 tsp of pepper, then added more slowly throughout the simmer, to taste. Add the 1/4 cup EVOO, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil (medium high heat), then reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes (low heat).
After your sauce is on low and simmering, in a large bowl soak the 4 pieces of bread in the water. If you need less water to soak the bread, use less. If the bread is still dry, add a little more. Once the bread is saturated, squeeze out the water and place bread in another bowl. Mash the bread into a paste, then stir in the beaten eggs, garlic, parsley, marjoram, 1 tablespoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Mix until smooth and well combined. I like to stir the sauce every 5 or 10 minutes while mixing and rolling out the meatballs.