Monday, January 26, 2015

Make It Monday: Baked Meatballs In Creamy Vodka Sauce

You've just settled into your new resolutions and workouts... am I really going there with the vodka and the heavy cream? Oh yes, my friends, I am! Put your Spanx on and dig in because this is too good to miss.

Ingredients to gather:

1. Choose your favorite pasta

2. For the meatballs:

  • 1 lb minced beef or lamb (you can find Australian minced lamb at Whole Foods if you ask for it at the meat counter)
  • 1 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 Tbls ketchup
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tsp sea salt, pinch of black pepper 
3. For the sauce:
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced very finely
  • 1 small onion, minced very finely
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (14.5 oz) * I only ever use Muir Glen organic fire roasted tomatoes - recommended by a reader!
  • 2 Tbls tomato puree 
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup cream

Method for meatballs: Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  1. Finely mince the carrot, celery, and onion. Saute these in 2 tsp olive oil and add the salt and pepper. Saute until onion is golden brown. Remove from heat, place in a bowl and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, allow bread crumbs to soak in 1/4 cup water. Then add the beaten egg.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the minced beef or lamb with the sauteed vegetables. Add the ketchup and work this together well - I use my hands.
  4. Next, add the bread crumbs with egg to the meat mixture and blend together well.
  5. Form into meatballs and place them in a glass baking dish or ceramic casserole dish that you have oiled lightly (or line with foil first).
Encourage your kids to wash their hands well and demonstrate how to roll a meatball. This is such a fun dinner to make!

Method for the sauce:
  1. Oil a saucepan with the olive oil and set to a medium heat. Add the butter and saute minced garlic and onion, adding the salt and pepper.
  2. Reduce heat. Add 1/2 cup vodka and simmer for a few minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes and puree and stir well. Allow to simmer on a very low heat for about 8 minutes while stirring.
  4. Add 1/2 cup of cream and gently stir while simmering on the lowest possible heat.
  5. Remove from heat,cool slightly, and place in a mixing bowl.
  6. Spoon over the meatballs liberally and bake at 400 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through. (Oven times vary, check the center of meatballs to ensure they are cooked evenly).
  7. Serve over your favorite pasta. Sprinkle Parmesan and a little fresh chopped basil on the top. 

Bittersweet - I never had a chance to make this for my Dad and I know he would have loved it. I hope your children love it as much as my boys do!

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