So my last post catalyzed this thoughtful quandary, “What is man food?”. Obviously there’s no correct answer and it’s all rhetorical questioning since gender roles are assigned and not necessarily predetermined at birth. However, on a very basic stereotypical level, I think…
…sauce, spice, hearty, rustic,
pork, beef, all meat, slow, low, simple.
So, for my son’s very first ever day of school, I decided I should make one of his favorite things…meatballs. Since it’s been so cool here, it is now the perfect time to break out my slow cooker and light this house up with the awesome aroma of meat simmering in gravy, which even I as a vegetarian can appreciate. If you don’t have a slow-cooker, you may do this in a large pot over the stove on very low heat using a diffuser. Or, just watch the pot on low and vary the cooking times to your liking.
My little man was starting kindergarten yesterday and needed some serious man food after a long and arduous day of numbers, letters and overall socializing, playing, discovering and learning. I made him some slow cooker meatballs and gravy (otherwise known as a sauce or ragu) to go with spaghetti. Obviously I made enough for two days, since this sort of slow cooked dinner is even better on the second day, especially for meatball sandwiches. Instead of the usual sandwiches though, I hotpocketed the meatballs and baked them in delicious homey goodness, brushed with olive oil and butter.
Meatballs, Gravy and Hotpockets: For My Little Man Starting Kindergarten
Slow Cooker Gravy (AKA Sunday Gravy, Sauce, Ragu, etc.)
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 small onion, chopped
- 1 roasted, peeled, and seeded cubanelle or red pepper, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (double for extra heat, if desired)
- kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 3 cans tomato purée
- 3 cans tomato paste
- 4 leaves basil, chopped
- 1 twig’s oregano leaves, pulled
Homemade bread crumbs
note: you may use store bought, if desired for the meatballs
- 8 slices of day-old Italian bread, crusts removed and soaked in water
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 tablespoon basil
- salt and pepper to taste
Soak bread in water and squeeze to remove excess, place in small bowl and add remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly.
- Olive oil, for frying
- 1 pound ground beef, room temperature
- 1 pound ground pork, room temperature
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 eggs, room temperature and lightly beaten
- 1 cup homemade Italian breadcrumbs (above) or store bought Italian breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup gravy (above)
- 2 tbsp. Italian parsley, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
Place large frying pan over medium-high heat, add about a half inch of olive oil to preheat. In a large bowl, mix remaining ingredients until well incorporated. Take a small patty of meat and place on microwaveable plate and heat for 30 seconds. Add salt and pepper to meat mixture according to taste. Mix thoroughly again and then form into palm-sized balls. Drop into preheated frying pan and turn to brown on all sides.
Place into slow cooker, in with gravy and simmer for at least one hour before serving. Bring leftover meatballs to room temperature before storing in refrigerator overnight.
Dough (you may use store bought or pizzeria pizza dough for meatball pockets):
- 4 1/2 cups unbleached high-gluten, bread, or all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
- 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 3/4 cups water, cold
- Butter and olive oil, for pan and for brushing
- Dough (above)
- Meatballs simmered in gravy (above)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahreneheit and butter a baking sheet then drizzle olive oil over butter where meatball pockets will go. Remove two dough balls from refrigerator or freezer and bring to room temperature. Roll out onto floured surface and place three gravy coated meatballs in center of dough. Fold edges over in thirds and seal ends by pressing with fingers. Poke a hold with a wooden skewer in top of pocket. Brush outside of unbaked pocket with butter or olive oil and place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining room temperature dough. Place baking sheet in preheated oven and bake until pockets are golden brown, about twenty minutes.
Note: Make gravy first, then meatballs and make dough at least one day (maximum three days) prior to use or store bought.