Meatballs with arrabbiata sauce

chopping garlic
One of our tried-and-true, easy to make, yummy weeknight dinners. Both the meatballs and the sauce are inspired by recipes out of Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, and are basically just vehicles for garlic. And an excuse to drink red wine.

J almost always makes the meatballs in this house – here’s how he did these. He started with two pounds of ground beef, almost the last of our local half-a-cow that we bought last year. The beef was mixed with 1/2 cup each of bread crumbs and milk, two eggs, salt and pepper, and a head (yes, a head!) of chopped garlic. The original Bittman recipe called for onion, but the first time J made it we were out. He substituted garlic (which we grow ourselves), and we liked it so much it stuck. The meatballs get baked for about 20 minutes in a 375° oven. We generally use parchment paper, it helps tremendously for cleanup.

garlic and chiles for arrabbiata sauce

The arrabbiata sauce (a big batch) started with another head of chopped garlic and a couple teaspoons of dried red pepper flakes cooked in lots of olive oil until the garlic is good and brown – it almost smells burnt, but not quite. We added canned diced tomatoes (one big can and two small) and salt, and boiled it until it thickened somewhat. Spicy!

A few years ago we were fairly seriously low-carbing, and I had the happy thought of, instead of pasta, putting the meatballs and sauce on top of a bed of cooked spinach. If there’s fresh spinach to be had, I’ll use that, but usually I just open a pound bag of frozen spinach from the store, dump it into a cast iron pan with a little olive oil and cook it down. The effect with the garlicky sauce is, frankly, magically delicious. We never have it any other way!
meatballs with arrabbiata sauce

With the meatballs we tried out a bottle of Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel. It was jolly and plummy and very fun. I might have preferred something Italian, but it was plenty good.

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