Meatballs and sausage are just about the most favorite accompaniment to spaghetti or other pasta for most folks. As I was growing up, I think meatballs were my very favorite. I did not have an appreciation for sausage until later in life. As I recall, pork sausage could be chewy and contain large pieces of fat. Not the healthiest of foods. Today there are numerous types of sausages besides pork, such as turkey, chicken and vegetarian. However, if you want an authentic taste then Italian pork sausages are the way to go. About 10 years ago I discovered Fortuna ‘s Sausage Company located in Rhode Island and was very pleased with their product. The sausage is made with all natural , hand trimmed pork and comes from small farms across the region. The sausage comes in a number of flavors and is not fatty. I have included a link below, if you would like to see the products they sell.
When it comes to cooking meatballs or sausage, my method is different from my mother. She would mix the meatball ingredients, form the meatballs and fry them in oil before adding them to the tomato sauce. In fact some of my relatives prepared the meat in the same pan that they later cooked the tomato sauce in, leaving all the fat that came from the meat in the pan and then into the sauce. Even frying the meat in a skillet, as my mother did, added fat to this dish. So to avoid this added fat, I bake the meatballs and sausage in a hot oven and then add them to the sauce. I like to think that my method is much healthier.
My usual preparation is to spray two 9″ x 13″ glass baking dishes with olive oil cooking spray. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
In one dish I place 1 lb. of Italian sausage cut into 3 inch links. The second dish will hold the meatballs and the recipe is as follows:
2 lbs. lean ground meat (beef and pork) or you can use all beef (usually ground round) or ground turkey breast
1/2 cup onion chopped fine
1 clove garlic, minced
2 eggs or 1/2 cup of egg substitute, such as, Egg Beaters
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups of Progresso Italian bread crumbs
1 cup warm water
In a large mixing bowl place the bread crumbs and warm water. Mix and let rest for about 10 minutes. Add the all the remaining ingredients except the meat and mix well. Add the meat and mix with your hands just until combined. Over mixing causes the meat to toughen.
Wet your hands and form the meatballs. A traditional size is 2-3 inches across, but you can make them any size you want. I usually get about 16 meatballs. Place them in the greased baking dish.
Bake the sausage and the meatballs until brown for about 40 minutes, turning them half way through the baking time. Remove the meat to a tray lined with paper towels to drain.
Add the meat to the tomato sauce during the second hour and let them simmer in the sauce for an hour. The recipe for the sauce was in yesterday’s post.
Meatballs and sausage to serve with cooked spaghetti.