September 9, 2008

Fusco/Monaco Family Meatballs & Marinara Sauce

Fusco is my grandmother's maiden name; Monaco is my mom's. She started her reputable cooking career at 9 years old, scaling and cleaning fish her father brought home. I wasn't even cooking when I was 19...but have managed to pick up mom's techniques from years of observing as I stuff my face. Everything was already cooked by the time I woke up; I can't help that she wakes up at 5AM and can't sit still.

Waking up
every Sunday morning to the aroma of fresh meatballs cooling on the kitchen counter and marinara sauce simmering on the stove greeted me when I lived at home. The tradition continues in mom's kitchen and macaroni is always on the menu all day long, every Sunday.

Meatballs for breakfast might sound like a bit much first thing in the AM...but I could never resist once I caught the scent as I headed downstairs. Grab a slice of Italian bread, dip in sauce, and eat with a meatball. Breakfast is served, Mama Jo style.

olive oil
3 large cans contadina crushed tomatoes
1 large can of contadina tomato sauce
1 medium onion
6 cloves garlic
2 short beef ribs
2 country style pork ribs
3 pieces hot sausage
5 raw meatballs
7 basil leaves

In large sauce pan, coat bottom with olive oil (about 1/4 cup). Place all onion and meat (except meatballs) on medium heat. Add garlic after meat is browned, let cook until garlic is almost brown. Pour cans of tomatoes into pan along with 1 can full of water. Cook 2-3 hours. When sauce begins to simmer, add meatballs and keep on medium-low heat, a slight bubble/simmer. The longer and slower, the better it tastes. Add parsely, basil and oregano 15 mins before serving.

Mama Jo says: this is a good size sauce, but when using meat, it soaks it up. Most Sundays, mom uses 3 beef ribs and 4 hot sausage OR 2 pork ribs. The trick is to balance the pork and beef.

The first 5 ingredients is a marinara sauce and can cook 1 1/2 - 2 hours without meat.

2 lbs ground beef

1 - 2 eggs
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2-3 cloves finely chopped garlic
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp parsley
1/4 tsp oregano
OR use Italian Seasons packet to include all above spices
5-6 frazelles or hard Italian bread (frazelles can be found at Italian markets)

Soak frazelles in water until completely drenched and break up into chunks. Squeeze to release most water. Mix meat, seasonings and eggs. Start with 1 egg, mix with hands, mixture should be moist. Add frazelles gradually, keeping mix on the moist side. If too dry, add 2nd egg. Roll about 5 larger meatballs and add into sauce. Let them cook with sauce for about 2 hours or more. Roll other meatballs and bake at 350 for 30 mins.

Tip: to test seasoning, throw a small bit of meat into frying pan and taste.

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