meatballs and home made marinara sauce

2 cans whole tomatoes
28-ounces each, san marzano tomatoes recommended
1 whole spanish onion
.25 inch dice
4 cloves garlic
thinly sliced
4 tsp fresh thyme
or 1 tsp dried
1 half carrot
finely shredded
6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
red pepper flake
to taste
to taste
2 tbsp unsalted butter
cold, cut into small cubes
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
from 4 slices of white bread with crusts removed
1/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
2 tbsp italian parsley
1/2 cup parmesan
freshly grated
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
freshly ground
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 whole egg
extra-large, beaten
1/2 lb ground veal
1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 lb ground beef
3/4 cup warm water
vegetable oil
olive oil
provolone or swiss cheese
sliced, optional
crisped baguette
parmesan cheese
grated, for garnish
italian parsley
chopped, for garnish
This recipe is one of our favorites for several reasons. Although it takes quite a bit of prep work, the recipe’s components store well and reheat beautifully. Also, the marinara sauce and the meatball meat can be repurposed for use in other dishes such as puttanesca, eggplant parmesan, and lavash pizzas. We pass on the pasta for this dish and simply serve it up with toasted baguette with goat milk butter. The marinara recipe is adapted from Mario Batali and the meatball recipe is adapted from Ina Garten.
For the marinara, start by crushing the whole tomatoes by hand and mixing them well with their juices. You could also halve each tomato with scissors so that juices don't squirt out when crushed.
Sautee onions and garlic in the olive oil for about 8-10 minutes. Add thyme and carrot. Sautee for 5 minutes more.
Add crushed tomatoes and red pepper flake. Bring to a boil and stir often. Then lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
Add the unsalted butter after pulling from heat. The sauce will magically glimmer. Season with salt to taste, keeping in mind that piping hot sauce will taste more salty once it cools a little.
For the meatballs, place the ground meats, both bread crumbs, salt, pepper, nutmeg, egg, warm water, parsley, and Parmesan in a bowl. Combine very lightly with a fork. Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs. You will have 14 to 16 meatballs.
Preheat equal amounts of vegetable oil and olive oil into a large saute pan to a depth of 1/4-inch. Working in batches so as not to crowd the meatballs, place the them in the oil and brown them on all sides over medium-low heat, about 10 minutes per batch. Transfer the meatballs to a plate covered with paper towels. Discard the oil but don’t clean the pan yet.
Combine meatballs and a portion of the sauce in the pan. If adding cheese, blanket the meatballs with the cheese slices. Simmer for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve meatballs and sauce in a low bowl with a slice of crunchy baguette. Top with Italian parsley and grated parmesan.