savories

Baked Meatballs with Cheesy Parmesan Polenta

Ah yes, Sunday dinners. I think we can all agree that Sunday nights are the saddest part of the week, knowing what’s to come. To counteract that, Sunday dinners in my house have become the solution- a fancy meal and a glass of wine to lull you into a sense of coziness so that you briefly forget that the work week lies ahead. This week? Fricken meatballs and cheesy polenta because why the heck not. And, because there are better things you can be doing with your Sunday besides individually searing each meatball, these are baked all at once and then finished in a mouthwatering and deceivingly easy tomato sauce that people will think you spent your whole day standing over the pot. Adapted from this recipe by Ina Garten, it’s served with a heaping portion of cheesy polenta in lieu of spaghetti, and as a diehard pasta enthusiast, I can promise you won’t even miss it.

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This weekend I somehow fell down a cooking/ baking hole where every project I’ve been putting off recently all accidentally happened at once. In a span of two days, I made a batch of raspberry macarons (following another batch of toasted marshmallow ones from Tuesday), the FLAKIEST biscuits I have ever made, a lemon meringue pie (coming soon), and this dinner. I think I stood for 8 hours straight on Sunday but wow it was worth it. But honestly, enough about that, let’s get down to what really matters, cooking and eating THIS.

Makes: 10 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: about 1.5 hours

Meatball and Sauce Ingredients

2 cans (32 oz. each) crushed tomatoes
2 onions, peeled and cut in half
½ cup (1 stick) salted butter
2 lbs ground beef (or 1lb ground beef, ½ lb ground veal, ½ lb ground pork)
1¾ cups Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
½ cup ground pecorino romano cheese
½ cup ground parmesan cheese
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbs fresh chopped parsley
2 eggs, beaten
¾ cup dry red wine
¾ cup water
Olive Oil, for brushing
Salt and Pepper, to season

Meatball and Sauce Steps

1. In a large, deep pot, add the crushed tomatoes, butter (sliced into tablespoons), and the halved onions. And honestly, that’s it for the sauce. Turn the heat to medium low, and stir occasionally, cooking for 45 minutes, or until the onions are soft.

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2. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 400ºF and line your baking trays with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the ground meat, breadcrumbs, cheeses, garlic, parsley, beaten eggs, red wine, and water. With your hands (or a spoon/ spatula) mix everything together until all ingredients are evenly dispersed throughout.

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3. Scoop roughly 1½ tablespoon amounts and roll them into neat balls with your hands, and line them up on your trays. Brush each meatball with olive oil and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

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4. At this point, remove the onions from the tomato sauce, and add the roasted meatballs and allow them to cook in the sauce for 10 minutes more. Serve a heaping portion on top of a luscious bowl of polenta (recipe below). YUM!

Cheesy Parmesan Polenta Ingredients

8 cups chicken stock
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cup stone ground cornmeal
1½ tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 cups fresh grated parmesan cheese (this sounds high maintenance but the fresh grated kind makes a difference I promise, it melts way easier and more smooth)
1 cup creme fraiche
½ stick (4 tablespoons) salted butter

Cheesy Parmesan Polenta Steps

1. In a medium sized pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil with the garlic. Reduce the heat to low and slowly whisk in the cornmeal to eliminate lumps.

2. Add the salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the polenta is thick. Don’t forget to scrape the sides of the pot!!

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3. After 10 minutes, remove from heat and stir in the parmesan, creme fraiche, and butter. Serve with meatballs and prepare for a food coma like you’ve never seen before.

xoxoxoxoxD

 

savories

Beef Bourguignon

This past week, all but 1 of my siblings were home from college for break (we miss you Clare!), so what better way to welcome everyone home than with a pot of this cozy, warming, perfectly filling french stew? For so long I watched my mom make this stew for special occasions or snow days, and was always intimidated by it, until I realized that the work is very front heavy, and then, since it simmers for about 3 hours, you’re free to do other things. I myself am typing this as I watch it bubble happily on the stove with a glass of the leftover red wine- waste not!! It’s become one of my favorite decadent meals, with tender pieces of beef, buttery sautéed mushrooms, and and a heaping pile of egg noodles to carry it all. As a side note, don’t overlook the sprinkling of chopped parsley at the end, this stew has lots of (delicious) heaviness that really benefits from its bright and fresh flavor.

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We’ve had a lot of strange weather on the East Coast recently, and I’m always pleasantly surprised when I get snow days from work just like at school. Apparently it’s still not even over, and I’m definitely not complaining if it gives me a snow day, I just hope there’s some of this stew still left for me to eat in my PJs all day.

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This is the last time I cook with this many cookbooks and notes!!

This recipe comes from a combination of cookbooks, common sense, and wise words from my mom, that I finally wrote down in one place so that I wouldn’t have to keep checking between 2 cookbooks at all times, which gets risky because I am notoriously forgetful when reading recipes. The cookbooks used are Woman’s Day Famous French Cookery, and The New Basics Cookbook, both well loved books in my mom’s arsenal. They each make some excellent points, but I’ve taken the best parts (personal opinion only) of both and created this recipe that I will continue to make for years and years to come. Pro-tip: make this for future in-laws or important guests because it tastes and looks SO fancy, and they’ll think you were standing over the stove all day. Without further ado, go forth and get cooking!!

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Makes: 8-10 generous servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Inactive Time: ~3 hours
Total Time: approximately 3½ to 4 hours

Ingredients

12 oz. (8 strips) thick cut bacon, diced
5 lbs. beef chuck (also called stew beef), cubed
1½ cups onion, diced
1 tbs kosher salt
½ tsp black pepper
3 cloves garlic, miced
3 cups dry red wine (I used burgundy, I also know barely anything about wine so)
2 cups beef stock
2 bay leaves
1 tsp thyme
2 tbs tomato paste
3 tbs salted butter
1 lb. mushrooms, washed and sliced
4 tbs all-purpose flour
24 oz. (2 bags) egg noodles

Steps

1. Sauté the bacon on medium-high heat in a deep, heavy pot (this is the same pot you’ll be using to make the whole stew), until crisp. Remove from the pot and place on a paper towel lined plate to absorb the grease. At this point, dry your beef so that it gets a nice sear. Drain out all but 2 tbs of the bacon grease (but save it in a cup for later) and brown the beef in batches, searing on both sides, about 3 minutes on each side.

2. Once the last of the meat is browned and removed, add 2-3 tbs more of the bacon grease and add the diced onion. Cook on medium heat until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the bacon and the beef back into the pot, along with salt, pepper, garlic, bay leaves, red wine, beef stock, thyme, and tomato paste. Cover and turn the heat down to low, simmering for about 3 hours, or until the beef is tender.

4. Towards the end of the stew simmering process, melt 3 tablespoons of salted butter in a skillet on medium heat, and sauté sliced mushrooms until golden and soft, around 10-15 minutes. Add to the stew and mix until evenly distributed.

5. In a small bowl, mix together the flour with just enough water to form a thick paste, and stir this into the stew. Allow to cook for another 15 minutes or so until the stew has thickened. Make sure to remove the bay leaves now!!

6. While the stew is in it’s last 15 minute stage, bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt generously, and cook egg noodles according to package instructions.

7. For each serving, start with a generous helping of egg noodles, ladle the stew on top, and finish with some of the parsley. Best enjoyed with bread and a glass of wine. YUM!

xoxoxoxoD