Aunt Kate's Meatballs
This is a huge recipe, enough for twenty guests. Cut in half for a good family meal.
1 large #10 can crushed tomatoes.
1 tsp sugar
Italian Seasoning to taste
1/4 cup red wine
2 lbs sweet Italian sausage
For the meatballs:
4-5 slices white bread
3/4 cup milk
2 lbs ground beef, pork and veal mix
2 cloves garlic, finely grated
3 tsp chopped parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup pine nuts
To make the Gravy:
Pour the canned tomatoes into a large pot. Add a touch of sugar, salt, pepper, and cover the entire circumference of the pot with Italian seasoning. The entire surface of the sauce should be dusted with the green seasoning mixture. Heat the sauce slowly.
To make the meatballs:
Tear bread into pieces and soak in the milk for 5 minutes. Place meat in large bowl. Add eggs, crushed or grated garlic, chopped parsley, raisins, pine nuts, salt and pepper. Squeeze the bread or push down into a strainer to drain all the milk out. Add to the meat mixture. With your hands or heavy-duty mixer, blend all the ingredients. Shape into small balls tucking raisins into the middle so they don't fall out of the meat during browning.
Cook the Sausage:
Cut sausage into serving size pieces and brown in frying pan with olive oil and sliced garlic. Turn and brown opposite side. Place lid over saucepan and steam the sausages for twenty minutes, adding a handful of water to keep the sausages moist. Remove lid from saucepan and steam twenty minutes more. Remove sausages and add them to the gravy.
Cook the Meatballs:
Brown the meatballs in the sausage drippings, taking care not to break them apart as you turn them to brown them evenly. When they are browned on all sides, carefully remove them from the pan and stir them gently into the gravy. Cook the gravy on very low flame for several hours, stirring occasionally, keeping the sauce from sticking as you stir with your wooden spoon.
For added flavor, remove any grease from the meatball drippings and stir about a cup of gravy into the pan. Add this mixture to the gravy and add about 1/4 cup of wine (optional).
Serve over pasta with grated Romano cheese.
Notes and hints: "Gravy" is what is often referred to as Spaghetti Sauce. In our family (on the Italian side) - "gravy" is always red. Chopping the raisins and the pignoli nuts makes for a more subtle flavor. Cooking the raisins whole in the meatballs, gives them a wonderfully juicy texture, as the raisins tend to absorb the tomatoey gravy. I don't chop my raisins but my husband prefers them chopped. Pignoli or Pine nuts are always optional. Raisins aren't.