Aired February 23, 2011
1 slice potato bread, torn into very small pieces (any bread on hand would work but this is best)
1/3 cup whole milk
1 1/2 pounds meatball/meatloaf mix (beef, veal, pork combo)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs, such as McCormick
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 clove garlic, finely minced or grated
1/2 to 3/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs (whole wheat Italian breadcrumbs preferred)
EVOO - Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for browning
For the sauce:
1 turn of the pan EVOO - Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 small onion, grated
3 garlic cloves, grated or minced
3 28-ounce cans tomato puree or crushed tomatoes
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1/4 cup red wine, Chianti preferred but another red like sangiovese or merlot would do
4 or 5 basil leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a mixing bowl combine torn bread and milk. Allow to sit a minute or two for bread to absorb some of the milk (this helps keep the meatballs moist and not dry out in the center). Add the remaining meatball ingredients and 1/2 cup breadcrumbs. Mix together with your hands until ingredients are blended. If the mixture is still loose and hard to form together add another 1/4 cup breadcrumbs. You want the meat to hold a shape. Form the meat mixture into golfball-sized balls.
Heat a pan over medium heat. Add meatballs to pan but dont overcrowd the pan. Cook a few minutes on all sides just to brown the outsides. Using tongs, take meatballs from the pan and put into slow cooker. (The tongs or a slotted spoon will make sure that excess oil isnt added to the slow cooker)
Once all of the meatballs are in the slow cooker, add another turn of the pan EVOO to the same pan. Brown the onion and garlic for the sauce. Add to the slow cooker along with remaining sauce ingredients. Mix everything together carefully as to not break up the meatballs.
Cook on low 7- 8 hours or on high 3-4 hours.
Important tip: To thicken sauce, take the top off for the last hour and cook on high (even if it was cooked on low).
This makes a lot of sauce and requires a large crock pot. Serve this sauce over pasta for dinner (be sure to top with fresh grated parm!) then use it again on rolls with mozzarella for meatball sandwiches or make meatball pizza or stuffed bread. It also freezes very well.