“Meatballs” and “Tomato Sauce with Butter & Onion” from “Food52 Genius Recipes”

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I’ve loved many of the recipes I’ve made from “Genius Recipes” this month, but I approached this one with a fair amount of trepidation.  I already have a Genius Recipe for tomato sauce and meatballs– from Polpo (first reviewed here), which everyone loves very much. Why mess with success?

I was right to be sceptical.

As this is a food blog, let’s review this particular dish by using a Praise Sandwich. For those among you who are unfamiliar with this term, it means you start with the compliments, put the criticism in the middle, and then finish with a compliment. Apparently using this method is supposed to make hearing criticism easier to stomach. Or something.

Everyone agreed that the tomato sauce was delicious. In fact, I made it again earlier this week when I needed some tomato sauce for chicken parm night. (It is Revision Week here, ahead of internal exams next week, so it’s been a week full of our favourites, and chicken parm is one of them.)

The tomato sauce differs from the Polpo version in that you only used canned tomatoes for this one– Polpo uses a mix of fresh and canned– and also it is a bit quicker to make– 45 minutes compared to 90 minutes for Polpo. But the key difference is the inclusion of a fair amount of butter, as well as an onion that you cook whole with the tomatoes, but then take out before using the sauce. I wasn’t sure about the butter, as that seemed an odd addition to a basic tomato sauce. But what the butter did in the end was add a dairy creaminess, not unlike what you’d have if you’d added cheese.

Half of the family liked this tomato sauce better than the Polpo version, the other half disagreed, preferring the Polpo tomato sauce. This was definitely a split decision.

Where we were all unanimous, however, was in our universal dislike of the meatballs. They weren’t bad, they just weren’t as gloriously delicious as the Polpo version we have come to know and love. I’ve made them countless times since I first tried them in March 2013, and they’ve been a winner. Every time. You’ve got to like those odds.

So in short, a mixed decision. I definitely would make the tomato sauce again (particularly when I don’t have enough time, or I’m in a holiday house, where access to a variety of ingredients is limited) but I won’t make these meatballs again.

But frankly, I’m being picky. In our family, you can never go wrong with spaghetti and meatballs for dinner.

If you’d like to try the recipes mentioned above for yourself:

The Polpo tomato sauce recipe can be found by clicking through here;

The Genius52 tomato sauce recipe can be found by clicking through here;

The Polpo meatball recipe can be found by clicking through here; and

The Genius52 meatball recipe can be found by clicking through here.

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“Meatballs” and “Tomato Sauce with Butter & Onion” from “Food52 Genius Recipes”

“Pork Loin with Parma Ham & Oregano” and “Spinach baked with Ricotta & Nutmeg” from “Nigellissima””

Anna: I’m sorry we’re eating a bit later than I planned. The crackling took a lot longer than I thought it would.

Judy: But it was delicious and we could nibble on it while we waited for the main course. I have been very careful not to crack my teeth.

Anna: I also have another confession, which is that I’ve screwed up the spinach. In my head I thought we needed marscapone, which I had already. So I’ve had to use it rather than ricotta, which I don’t have. I think it’s going to be very runny.

Judy: I like undercooked eggs.

John: It looks set to me.

Anna: I guess it has set, it just isn’t quite what it should be.

Judy: Well it’s delicious and goes with the pork perfectly. No carbs required!

Anna: This pork is very good isn’t it?

Judy: It’s delicious! The flavours are so fresh. I can tasted the garlic and the oregano. Wonderful! John, you will have to get me this cookbook for my birthday.

“Pork Loin with Parma Ham & Oregano” and “Spinach baked with Ricotta & Nutmeg” from “Nigellissima””