There are so many great recipes in Thomas Keller’s “ad hoc at home”, it is hard to choose which one to make next! With the deluge of “April Showers” here in Seattle, we are still into winter style, comfort food. As Dave and I flipped through the book, we decided to give the Stuffed Meatballs a try. That decision led to also making the delicious oven roasted tomato sauce. As always, we added in a few of our own modifications, to make this to our taste.
Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cup minced leeks
1 1/2 cup finely chopped fennel
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
3 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
3 28 oz cans imported Italian tomatoes
1 Sachet made up of:
1 bay leaf
3 thyme sprigs
10 black peppercorns
2 cloves garlic, smashed
Preheat the oven to 350′
Combine the oil, onion, fennel, leeks and garlic in large oven-proof baking dish or skillet. Sprinkle with salt. Place in oven and bake for about an hour, or until the vegetables are tender and beginning to caramelize.
Stir in the red wine vinegar and the brown sugar and return to oven to another 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, drain the canned tomatoes. Coarsely chop half of them, and process the other half in a blender or food processor. Add the chopped tomatoes, the pureed tomatoes, and the sachet to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Return to the oven for another 1 1/2 -2 hours. Stir the sauce every 1/2 hour.
We ended up adding a jar of marinara sauce to this mixture at the end of 90 minutes, as I thought the sauce was more like tomato stew, than sauce. We also ran an immersion blender through the sauce, as it was really chunky. When we make this again, we will not drain the tomatoes as extra liquid was needed. The flavor is fabulous and roasting in the oven is a great technique.
Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves minced garlic
1 pound ground chuck
8 oz ground veal
8 oz ground pork
8 oz ground sirloin
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
3 tablespoons fresh, chopped parsley
1 large egg
4 oz fresh mozzarella cut in cubes
Warm the oil in a saute pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook about 20 minutes to soften the vegetables. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
Place the ground meats, bread crumbs, egg, parsley and cooled onions in a large bowl. Mix gently by hand until just evenly mixed.
Shape the meatballs into large round balls, about 3 ounces each. Stuff a cube of cheese into the center of each meatball.
Place the meatballs on a cooling rack set into a baking sheet.
Bake the meatballs for 15-18 minutes at 425′. Let the meatballs rest about 10 minutes. We added them to the sauce and kept warm on the stove while the pasta cooked.