PJ’s Meatballs

PJ’s Meatballs and Sauce (courtesy of canyoustayfordinner.com)

(makes 12-15 meatballs and 4 cups marinara sauce)  Doubles, triples et easily.  I will often make more sauce than meatballs if using it over pasta.  Freezes well too.  Make smaller meatballs for appetizers.

For the sauce:

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

1 28oz can crushed or ground, peeled tomatoes

1 6 oz can tomato paste

1 tablespoon dried oregano

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

For the meatballs:

1 lb ground beef (80-85% lean)  I use turkey

1 egg

1/3 cup seasoned breadcrumbs (using panko makes this lactose free)

2 ½ teaspoons dried mint

2 teaspoons dried oregano

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

Make the sauce:

Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan completely. Add the onion and garlic and saute, stirring occasionally, for about 7 minutes, until browned. Lower the heat if they begin to burn. The more color that develops on the onion and garlic, the more flavor they’ll add to the finished sauce.

Once the onions and garlic are tender and caramel in color, add the crushed tomatoes and the tomato paste and stir until the mixture is smooth and well combined.

Add the remaining ingredients (oregano through pepper), stir, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Lower the heat to the lowest setting, cover and let cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally so that the bottom does not burn.

Make the meatballs:

Break apart the beef as best you can in a large mixing bowl. Lightly beat the egg in a small bowl and then pout evenly over the top of the beef. Sprinkle the bread crumbs, oregano, mint, salt, and pepper over the beef and egg and use your hands to blend the whole mixture into one uniform mass. You do not want to overwork you beef, or it will yield tough meatballs, but you do want to incorporate all of the ingredients into the ground beef so that each meatball will have a bit of the breadcrumbs and herbs and spices.

Shape the meat mixture into about 15 1” balls. (I do a quick pan fry to make the outside browned) Drop into the sauce, stir gently so that they’re all covered in sauce, and then let them cook, covered, for about 45 minutes to 1 hour over low heat. Stir the pot occasionally to prevent burning.

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