I know this may not look like much, but it’s one of my favorite things to eat. I’ve been looking forward to making it every since this post, and it was the first thing I wanted to do with my fresh supply of calf burger. I prefer it to ‘meat sauce’, as the meatballs brown nicely, and give the tomatoes a rich, concentrated, deep flavor profile. It’s solid comfort food, satisfying, and super cheap [and you know I dig cheap].
This blog gets a lot of hits from google searches on what to do with moose burger, so I’m recipe-izing this one for those folks. I know it’s just spaghetti and meatballs, but please – do not underestimate how good this might be until you’ve tried it. Don’t worry too much about exact measurements – it’s simply what I did tonight – there’s a lot of room for improvisation and error here.
533 g ground calf moose
25 g bread crumbs
3 g kosher salt [3 good pinches] 2 g fresh ground black pepper
big handful minced flatleaf parsley
cup of minced onion
3 cloves minced garlic
75 g spaghetti per person
5 tomatoes, canned
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
First, gently cook the onion and garlic to soften. Chill. I’m not a fan of garlic and onion powder, and this simple step allows their flavors into the party using the real deal. Once chilled, mix them with the the burger, egg, bread crumbs, kosher salt, pepper, and parsley. I mix it with gloved hands, and work it pretty good. Don’t be scared of over-working it – when making sausage, you’re looking for it to get kinda pasty, so if it goes there, no worries. Roll meatballs to whatever size turns your crank. I like golf ball sized, personally, slightly flattened to make cooking easier and create bigger surface area for browning. This recipe made 18 meatballs of that size. 4 per portion is adequate in our house.
Get your pasta water heating – salted, of course. Once that’s going, heat 2 tbsp or so of olive oil over medium heat in a large heavy-bottomed fry pan [no non-stick here]. Slowly fry the meatballs. They will stick. After a few minutes, very gently try to turn them. If they don’t lift easily, don’t push your luck, they’re not done. If they do lift with little effort, they should have a nice dark crust on them – so flip them, and do the same on the other side. Throw in your pasta.
When the meatballs are nicely browned, add 5 whole canned tomatoes, the pan will freak out a bit. Not a problem. Add the red wine vinegar. Add a pinch of salt. Scrape all the stuck-on bits off the bottom – this is important. Your depth of flavor, and ease of cleaning the pan depend on this step. Taste it for seasoning, and you’re ready to rock. Wait for the pasta to be done, and finished with fresh parmesan reggiano and some nice tuscan olive oil if you have. Enjoy.