Sunday, December 16, 2007

Meatballs in Homemade Sauce

Jon loves to cook and he can't wait until he can get back into the kitchen. Since his second and final wrist surgery was on Monday, he wanted something really hearty for dinner Sunday night. He requested meatballs - one of his own specialties - so I decided I'd try to make a homemade sauce to go along with it.

I have only made homemade sauce once but that was back in high school so I don't even remember what I did. I decided to give it a try tonight. I found this recipe for sauce that looked pretty good. I tweaked a few things, noted below.

Tomato Sauce


  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • Sea salt, preferably gray salt (I used Kosher)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (I used a bit more, maybe 4 large cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • I added basil, Parmesan cheese, a pinch of sugar, 1 tbsp tomato paste, and I cooked the meatballs in the sauce near the end.


  • Open the can of tomatoes and pour the juice into a bowl. Use the lid to press against the tomatoes to extract as much juice as possible.
  • In the can, avoiding cutting yourself with the rim, use your hand to squeeze the tomatoes to a pulp. Re-strain out the new juices, and reserve the juice and pulp separately. Fill the empty can half full with water and set aside.
  • Heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • Add the onion and cook with a pinch of salt, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and cook until golden.
  • Add the tomato juices and bring to a boil.
  • Simmer rapidly until the juice thickens, then add the crushed tomato pulp, oregano, the half can of water, bay leaf, and salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Adjust the heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, until the mixture thickens and reduces to about 3 1/2 cups, about 30 to 45 minutes. (I let it cook for 90 minutes, added the meatballs, and let it go for another hour or was still watery)
  • Discard the bay leaf.

The Outcome....I was not terribly happy with this recipe. The flavor was ok, but it never thickened up. However, it was really good on Monday night! I don't understand how the directions called for 30-45 minutes of cooking to thicken it. I didn't even use as much water as the recipe called for, I added tomato paste, and it still wasn't thick.

I will try sauce again, but I may just wing it..things seem to work better for me when I experiment rather than follow a recipe.

The Meatballs...Let's just say I'll let Jon stick to making the meatballs. They were fine, and I followed his recipe, but they just weren't the same as his.

I mixed 1-1/3 pound of ground beef with about 1 cup of breadcrumbs, 1 tbsp oregano, 1/2 tbsp garlic powder, salt, pepper, and an egg. I cooked them in a frying pan before adding them to the sauce.


Jon loves to make garlic bread. I've always heard him call it his "10-clove surprise" as he'd be making it. Of course I always thought he meant 10 cloves for just the bread. So since I was making this special pre-surgery dinner for him, I also made the bread.

I melted 4 tbs of butter and then cooked 8 cloves of garlic in it (pressed garlic). I poured the garlic-butter mixture over 6 slices of bread, wrapped it up in foil, and put it in the oven for about 12 minutes.

HOLY Garlic! We both love garlic, but wow. It was only after I made the bread that Jon told me that 10-clove surprise refers to the entire dinner - the sauce AND the bread. Oops! It was yummy but next time I'll stick to about 4 cloves.

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