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New year, back to basics

Talking SCHOP!

Kysha Harris | 1/9/2014, 12:30 p.m.
Kysha Harris

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Option one: Bake meatballs

Sometimes it’s best to start the new year by going back to basics. Plus, this single-digit weather means only one thing: comfort food. Hot, filling and delicious, it is comfort food that makes it all better. And when I think of comfort, I not only think of pasta, but specifically spaghetti with meatballs. Here is my recipe for you to enjoy, too.

Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely grated
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 2 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes in juice, drained, juice reserved, tomatoes finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon (or more) salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves

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Option two: Add to sauce later

Meatballs:

  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 pound ground dark meat turkey
  • 1 cup finely ground (not grated) Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium onion, grated
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (for serving)

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Browning meatballs

For the sauce, melt butter in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the next four ingredients and sauté until onions are translucent. Add the next four ingredients and bring to simmer. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Discard onions.

Using immersion blender, process sauce briefly to break up any large pieces of tomato (texture should be even but not completely smooth). Season sauce with more salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remove from heat.

For the meatballs, combine breadcrumbs and milk in small bowl; stir until breadcrumbs are evenly moistened. Let stand 10 minutes.

Place ground turkey in a large bowl and break up into small chunks. Add the next five ingredients. Whisk egg to blend in small bowl; whisk in garlic. Add to meat mixture.

Using hands, squeeze milk from breadcrumbs, reserving milk. Add breadcrumbs to meat mixture. Using hands, quickly and gently mix meat mixture just until all ingredients are evenly combined (do not overmix). Chill mixture at least 15 minutes and up to one hour.

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Ready for pasta

Moisten hands with some of the reserved milk from breadcrumbs, then roll meat mixture between palms into golf ball-size balls, occasionally moistening hands with milk as needed, and reserve on a plate in single layer. SCHOP! Tip: Use a small cookie spoon or ice cream scoop for little mess and even consistency.

Optional: Brown meatballs with a tablespoon of oil in a separate skillet over medium heat before adding to the sauce. Otherwise, add the raw meatballs to the sauce to cook.

Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until meatballs are cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.

Cook spaghetti in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain.

Using slotted spoon, transfer meatballs to platter. Add pasta to sauce in pot and toss to coat. Divide pasta among six plates. Top each serving with meatballs. Sprinkle meatballs with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and serve.

I am feeling very comfortable. You?

Happy eating and thanks for reading!

Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in-home entertaining packages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations? Email her at kysha@iSCHOP.com, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SCHOPgirl, on Facebook www.facebook.com/SCHOPnyc or chat with her on Instant Messenger at AskSCHOP, Monday-Friday, 6-8 p.m. For even more recipes, tips and food musings, subscribe to her blog at www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com.