27 January 2009

Paul Bunyan Meatballs with Pomodoro e Basilico (Tomato and Basil Sauce)

Paul Bunyan Meatballs with Pomodoro e Basilico
I am told that meatballs and pizza are really a product of American ingenuity. A big hug and kiss to all the Italians who made it their home and gave us these two daily staples!!! "Go big or go home" as they always say. No small little "polpettes" here just huge Paul Bunyan size meat-a-balls the size of your fist.

These meatballs even have a secret ingredient that makes them lighter and less dense than any of their counterparts. Baking powder...yes ...baking powder. The leavening agent in baking powder adds a lightness to the final product since these are baked and not fried. I had first heard about this on a cooking show on the Food Network. I did find this recipe to be deliciously moist, but three things that may have contributed were the fact that the meatballs are baked in the oven AND I did not overwork the meat mixture, which is always crutial AND just their sheer size. Who knows...but I consider this recipe to be a success.

**Grand Meatballs with Tomato-Basil Sauce**

1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 pound ground chuck
1/4 pound mild/sweet Italian sausage, removed from casing
6 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, finely chopped
1/2 - 1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
A splash of white wine
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon oregano or Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

In a large bowl combine the bread crumbs, egg, ground beef, Italian sausage, Parmesan cheese, parsley, baking powder, olive oil, garlic, wine, lemon zest, Italian seasoning and black pepper. Knead well to incorporate all the ingredients.

Wet your hands and form 8 big meatballs. Lay the meatballs out on a waxed paper covered tray and chill for at least 1 hour. Put the meatballs in a pan or roasting tray and cover with aluminum foil. Cook in a preheated oven for 30 minutes at 375 F. Remove the tin foil during the last 10 minutes of cooking. Serve the big meatballs with an easy, warm tomato-basil sauce.

**Pomodoro e Basilico (Tomato and Basil Sauce)**

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, crushed
2 lbs. fresh, ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced (or use 3 cups of canned, whole tomatoes, with their juice, coarsely chopped)
A splash of white wine
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn by hand into small 1/2 inch pieces
pinch of red pepper flakes

Put all but 1 tablespoon of olive oil and garlic in a large skillet over a medium-high heat and cook until the garlic begins to sizzle, but doesn't brown. Add the tomatoes and cook over a medium-high heat until the tomatoes have reduced and separated from the oil. This will be about 15 minutes depending upon your skillet size. Season with salt.

While the sauce is cooking bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot, add 1 tablespoon of salt, and drop in the pasta all at once, stirring until the pasta is submerged. If you have a smaller pot, you can use less than 4 quarts of water, but you must constantly stir the pasta for one minute.
When the sauce has reduced, add the torn basil leaves and the red pepper flakes. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then remove from the heat.

When the pasta is cooked al dente, drain and toss with the sauce in the skillet, adding the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.

Serve the big meatballs with warm tomato-basil sauce. One big meatball per person can be served over spaghetti for a delicious and hearty pasta dish. Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.
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  1. I've been eating meatballs my whole life -- probably the first meal after the Gerber jarred food -- but I never heard of adding baking powder. Worth a try.

    Congrats on your award.

  2. Those are some pretty tasty looking meatballs! I could go for one right now! I have never heard of adding baking powder. It is unconventional, but I'm going to try it next time. I also find that panko and a splash of milk adds to the moistness factor as well.

  3. Aaaahhhhh, when I read Paul Bunyan I thought, no, it must be a missunderstanding... Is this the Paul Bunyan of the tale? The one bigger than the trees whom would cut them all in no time? I adored this story when I was a kid!!!!

    Now to the meatballs... I bet they melted in your mouth :D I always use pork meat because makes them tender.

    And now to the Award :D. One day I will have to design my own Award to send it over to you 10 times!!! Thanks so much Darling Valli! You are too sweet♥

  4. Wow - that's a whole lot of meatball!! Reminds me that I am waaay overdue to make meatballs... And thanks for the award - very sweet of you :)

  5. Can't decide if the meat balls or the grated Parmesan cheese is more dramatic: I guess the combo is just WOW Val. That's beautiful!

  6. I've always loved meatballs... These look really good!



  7. This is indeed a family favorite... I have made so many meatballs in the last week, but a good recipe always catches my eye!

  8. There's this great Italian restaurant by our place that has "spaghetti and meatball" Just one. But it takes up almost the whole plate!

  9. Baking powder! Whoda thunk? I will have to try that out the next time I make meatballs. I love the meat combination too. My grandfather used to sometimes mix the sausage meat into his meatballs.

  10. I could eat meatball forever! Thanks for the great tips, especially the baking powder...you learn something new every day! Cheers Val!

  11. Wow, ive never heard of using baking powder, that sounds really interesting, I definitly have to try this recipe next time I make meatballs!

  12. Oh my gosh, I love colossal sized meatballs. Your Paul Bunyan reference made me laugh! My grandma always made giant ones. I've never seen baking powder in a meatball before, but will definitely give it a go. Get this, since my little one can't have wheat, I've pulverized rice chex to use in place of bread crumbs! ha! It works! Now I'll have to give your recipe a try. Love the Pomodoro sauce, too. Man, now I'm hungry.

    Thank you so much for the Triple Award! This was such a nice surprise, and I'm humbled by your thoughtfulness. You made my day!

  13. I've got ground beef out right now waiting to be cooked and these Grand Meatballs are truly calling out to me. My kids would be thrilled.

  14. baking powder in meatballs? i'm excited to try that--it seems like a really great idea, especially since i like a little poof in my balls o' meat. :)

  15. I would love this dish for a meal, I even love the name. It sounds angelic and church-like.

  16. Baking powder, eh? How interesting! These look delicious. I love meatballs. Mmm.

  17. Oh wow! I'll just pour myself a nice glass of Chianti before tucking into this one!

  18. I love tomato basil sauce, mmmm..
    I have never heard of baking powder in meatballs - makes you wonder how people discover these things!
    Congrats on your well deserved award.

  19. Baking powder is indeed a surprising ingredient. Will definitely have to try! These look great :)

  20. oh I'm coming over for dinner!! This looks great and such a lovely MM entry!

  21. this is an absolute classic dish - looks great

  22. A very comforting dish indeed!

  23. Don't believe what you heard. Pizza and meatballs are def from Italy.
    Your dish looks very nice :) Big hug!

  24. Wow! Those meatballs look good!

  25. Who would have thought baking powder? I am going to definitely give these a try. We love spaghetti and meatballs AND meatball subs in our home.

    Thanks for passing the award on!

  26. looks so delicious... :)

  27. Must try these as they are perfect now that I'm trying to cook healthier. Like the others I have just learned something new about using the baking powder. Congratz on your award and thanks very much for passing it on to me.

  28. Oh, gosh. I am in LOVE with these gargantuan meatballs.

    Even MORE appropriate now that you won our TOMATO LOVE giveaway... now you can make all sorts of Pomodoro sauce (albeit with canned tomatoes) :) *slurp*

  29. Val, you're the best! Thanks so much.

    We love meatballs and I was looking for a way to make them lighter. I will try the baking powder next time I make them. Thanks again and have a beautiful evening.

  30. Thank You Val! I need to make these, yours looks so good! I'm so curious about the baking powder in them!!

  31. Are you kidding? Meatballs the size of my fist? That's my kind of meatball. I'm really curious to try this recipe--maybe I'll try it with and without the baking soda to see how much difference it makes.

  32. Look delicious! Gloria
    Congrats by the awards!!

  33. Val, I appreciate a big, juicy meatball...this one is a meal.

    As for the baking powder, what exactly is the effect on the meatball?

  34. Meatballs are just one of the gifts of the world. Especially in the dead of winter!

  35. I've been busy, missing & BAD...& I'm late to pick up my wonderful award. Tch thch...punish me, but pls accept my apologies Val. Thank you joyfully for the award & triple times! Gracias too for the Pomodoro e Basilico...mmmmmm. I think I shall try this with chicken meatballs. I used my first few sprigs of thyme with my sun-dried tomatoes...oh this is wonderful indeed!!


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