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Meatballs & Spaghetti

February 26, 2009

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So the Top Chef finale was last night, and for those of you who watch it, were you as sad as I was that Carla didn’t win? Ah well, I suppose that’s the way the cookie crumbles (or, in the case of the finale, the way the souffle curdles). I’d still eat anything Carla made; as much as she sometimes got panned for it, I loved how she so obviously put love and soul into her cooking and had a likable quirky personality, to boot.

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Anyhow, see that big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs up there? I made a big batch of Ina’s meatballs, and some homemade spaghetti, last weekend because of something I’d been thinking about recently related to Top Chef.  Earlier in the season, one of the elimination challenges asked each of the chefs to cook a “Last Supper” for a celebrity chef or foodie — each of whom had told the contestants what they would want their last meal to be. (There’s also a book out along this vein, called “My Last Supper: 50 Great Chefs and Their Final Meals,” appropriately enough.) What I thought was interesting is that even though these were all very accomplished, skilled and experienced chefs, their meal choices were all fairly simple, classic flavors. No haute cuisine, no molecular gastronomy (in fact, Wylie Dufresne requested Eggs Benedict.) Lidia Bastianich wanted roast chicken, Jacques Pepin wanted squab and peas. So this got me to thinking — what would I want for my last meal?

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The answer, actually, came to me pretty quickly. And yep, you guessed it: spaghetti and meatballs. It’s homey, comforting, and I don’t know…just one of my favorite meals. I don’t even make it that often; usually only about twice a year, but when I do make it I loooooooooove it. It’s not particularly seasonal, but I do usually  make it in the colder months when I’m craving a warm bowl of noodles and sauce to slurp down (the meatballs don’t hurt, either.)

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I actually had been looking for a good meatball recipe for a long time, and when I saw Deb’s post over on smitten kitchen, I knew I would have to try Ina’s. And they are GOOD. Really tender, flavorful, and their lightness belies their larger size. This recipe’s a keeper!

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The sauce comes together easily, but I doubled the amounts because I like my spaghetti on the saucy side. Oh, and instead of all crushed tomatoes I used a combination of crushed and diced but — next time — I think I’d go crushed all the way.

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And then there’s the homemade spaghetti. Which, I am so sorry to say, I am going to save for another post — I want to do it justice. :) Suffice it to say, it was tender, luscious, delicious, and slurp-worthy.

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Since I followed Ina’s recipe to a “T,” I’ll just send you directly to the source. The only thing I’d recommend — if you like your pasta saucy like me — is to double the amount of ingredients in the sauce.

What about you? What would you pick for your “last supper?” (Ugh, and I don’t mean that in a morbid way, more just — if you had to pick your favorite meal, what would it be?)

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. Maggie permalink
    February 26, 2009 10:01 pm

    I was so sad about Carla too! I loved her style of cooking and her quirky personality – I’m hoping she wins fan favorite next week. The meatballs look delicious!!

  2. February 26, 2009 10:19 pm

    I loved Carla, too! She totally won my heart over by the end. But can we talk about this: if Carla wasn’t going to win, it should’ve been Stefan. Yeah, he’s a jerk, but at least he’s not whiny like Hosea. Plus, Hosea just isn’t as good of a chef. UGH. Not happy with the finale, not happy at all. In happy new, these meatballs look scrumptious. I could happily eat an entire plateful right this second. I can’t wait to try this recipe for myself!!

  3. February 26, 2009 11:13 pm

    I couldn’t believe carla let casey run her kitchen!! And while I didn’t think Hosea is a great choice, I hated Stefan’s attitude so was glad it wasn’t him.

    Meatballs are a great choice for a last meal… mine might be a juicy burger, but I’d have to do a lot of thinking :)

  4. February 26, 2009 11:14 pm

    Completely agree. I had a pain in the pit of my stomach when the sous chef (can’t remember her name) was making all them suggestions! So sad. I was never a fan of Hosea and didn’t like Stefan so it was very disappointing. Good to see Fabio again for a bit! ;)Great looking meatballs!!!

  5. February 27, 2009 12:57 am

    YUM. I think a big bowl of pasta of some sort (especially homemade) would probably be in my top 3.

  6. February 27, 2009 6:51 am

    Oh! I have a lot to say, so here goes. Carla! Why, why, why did she do it to us? I was in agony watching. Ina’s Meatballs! I have been dying to try these and with your stamp of approval there is really no excuse now. Homemade Spaghetti! Get out. You are too much. I cannot wait to hear.

    And, finally: a big juicy burger on a perfect bun, with perfect fries, conveniently eaten at a BBQ with all my favorite people.

    Great post, Amy. A lovely way to start my Friday.

  7. February 27, 2009 7:01 am

    Hi Amy – I made spaghetti & meatballs for dinner last night, I threw mine over polenta (mainly so I could put together your polenta pizza for lunch today!)
    On the Top Chef note I couldn’t even finish watching the show as soon as the sous vide came in – I was so bummed for Carla.
    As far as my last supper – hmmm – I’d have to echo Kristin’s burger choice.

  8. February 27, 2009 10:31 pm

    I, too, love spaghetti and meatballs. I could eat them any day, no matter what I was really in the mood for.

    As for the last supper, Kristin and Sue have me really craving that burger (I like mine with melted cheese, mayo and ketchup mixed together, caramelized onions. . . mmmm), but I’m going to have to go with my mom’s homemade beef stroganoff. It’s always been my favorite meal.

  9. February 28, 2009 9:16 am

    The Top Chef finale has everyone still talking about it days later so I’m guessing the producers think they did a good job. We complain but we watch, or at least I certainly did. Honestly, all three finalists bugged me off and on for various reasons. The only time I was completely happy with the results was when Harold won… : )

    Favorite meal? Homemade lasagna with a crisp green salad, lots of good garlic bread and a glass of chianti. I can always eat two HUGE servings because it just tastes that good to me.

  10. February 28, 2009 12:40 pm

    Maggie – I know; I was thinking that too – I think it will be between her and Fabio for fan favorite. At least she got a car ;)

    Elyse – I kind of agree w/you; I wish they had judged them in the finale based on how well they’d done all season, not just that one meal.

    ttfn300 – a juicy burger is a good choice…

    foodlibrarian – thanks!

    whitney – yes!

    Kristin – you definitely should try them; they’re quite delicious. :) And yes – what a great meal! Mmm, perfect fries sound so good…

    Sue – meatballs and sauce over polenta sounds, in a word, inspired. :) As much as I love pasta, I do love polenta, too…going to have to give that a try.

    Tiffany – good choice! It’s fun to see how so much of what we choose for that kind of thing is associated with memories…

    Texas Deb – yep; agreed, it is reality tv after all. That last meal is my second runner-up, I think…it’s also one of my favorites!!

  11. March 1, 2009 7:54 pm

    I’ve so been meaning to make those meatballs. I just emailed it to myself so I won’t forget. They sounds lovely. I’m going crushed all the way with my sauce too, as my preference is in line with yours on that issue.

    Last meal? Hm. So hard to pick just one. A burger would be great, but I’m thinking more along the lines of linguini and clams with pancetta.

  12. Anne permalink
    March 5, 2009 6:39 pm

    I just made Ina’s Italian Wedding Soup from her new cookbook. The meatballs are made of ground chicken and Italian chicken sausage and are baked in the oven. They are sooooo good! I made the soup for a big group of friends and they went nuts! Try it… you won’t regret it.

  13. March 13, 2009 11:03 pm

    Spaghetti and meatballs would be my last meal as well. And this is my go-to recipe thanks to the Smitten Kitchen link (with double the sauce). It’s like a big warm hug in a bowl. A big bowl, in my case.

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