pork

Vintage Vittles #2: Rat Pack Meatballs & Sauce

Sometimes finding & figuring out a vintage recipe is like a treasure hunt. I found this one for “Mrs Frank Sinatra’s.. Spaghetti & Meatballs” via Pinterest. A few clicks later & I found out it was from the WFBL Cookbook of the Stars, made in 1945 by a radio station in Syracuse, NY that aired the Frank Sinatra Show (Wednesdays at 9PM according to the clipping). As a vintage cookbook collector, I will admit I’m geeking out slightly & would love to get my hands on a copy of this cookbook. I’ve located a 1941 edition which apparently contains a recipe by Ronald Reagan (in his acting days) on Etsy. Which is cool too, but alas no recipes by “Old Blue Eyes”.


This recipe, like many vintage recipes can be a little hard to follow for the cooks of today. Modern recipes are written assuming that their reader knows nothing about cooking. Every step is laid out in detail. While vintage recipes assume their reader knows their way around the kitchen a bit & leaves out a lot of minutia. 

It’s probably ridiculous, but I like to imagine Frank, with an apron over his well-tailored suit, whipping up meatballs, sauce, & spaghetti for Sammy, Dino, and the gang. They of course enjoy the meal with some fine red wine. And later cocktails, naturally. Hence the rename on this recipe…



Rat Pack Spaghetti & Meatballs

Ingredients: 

For the meatballs:

  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 C grated Italian cheese, (Parmesan is fine)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 C bread crumbs (I used Italian-style)
  • 1 tsp parsley, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt & black pepper, to taste

For the sauce:

  • 1 large can (28 oz) Italian-style tomatoes (I like to use crushed)
  • 1 small can tomato paste 
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped 
  • 1 tsp ground parsley
  • 1/2 C EVOO
  • a few shakes of thyme
  • Kosher salt & black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Make the meatballs. Combine all ingredients in a stand mixer. I used my medium Pampered Chef scoop (2 tbsp) to create 36 even-sized meatballs.
  3. Lay out the meatballs on a greased baking sheet. Cook for about 30 mins, rotating the pans at the 15 min mark for even cooking. 

    This is the only picture i managed to get of the meatballs before they were devoured by my teens.

     
  4. Meanwhile, start the sauce. In a large pot (it will need to be large enough for the sauce and the meatballs to fit into comfortably) heat the EVOO over med-high heat. Add the onion & garlic & cook until golden. 
  5. Add the tomatoes & tomato paste. Stir to combine. Fill the tomato paste can with water & add to the mixture, stirring frequently. If desired, add a tomato paste can full of dry red wine. This is my contribution, not Frank’s. 
  6. At this point, I used my hand blender to even out the sauce so that it had fewer chunks. Also, my contribution. Season with salt & pepper, thyme, and parsley. 
  7. There are 2 schools of thought with regard to meatballs & sauce. Simmer the meatballs with the sauce, or add the meatballs after the sauce simmers. Frank was a meatballs-in-the-sauce guy. Simmering your meatballs with the sauce will give it a greater depth & meatier flavor. Though opponents of this method argue that it can make the meatballs soggy. Per Frank, add your meatballs to the sauce & summer on medium-low heat for 1 hour.
  8. When you’re ready to serve, cook your spaghetti according to package instructions, drain well, and top with desired amount of sauce & meatballs. Top with grated Parmesan, if desired. 

For more vintage recipes check out my Pinterest board Vintage Vittles! 

Honey Orange Chipotle Carnitas

Remember back in February when I visited one of my favorite Missouri wineries? No worries if you don’t, here’s a flashback to that wino field trip. While I was on that trip, if you will walk down memory lane with me, I picked up this little beauty:

IMG_2159

When I tasted this guy and his spicy sweetness, I knew I needed to cook something with him. I thought about it for awhile, ultimately going back and forth between carnitas or chicken wings. Obviously I chose the carnitas, but I still think chicken wings would be really good too. Unfortunately, the mead is gone so another field trip may be in order…

Many of the existing carnitas recipes I ran across were crock-pot carnitas. I’ve made crock-pot carnitas before, and they were fine, but for this recipe I decided to use my Dutch oven. It’s a lovely 8 qt. Martha Stewart in bright orange that coordinates nicely with my vintage LeCreuset stuff, and I use it a ton.

Making carnitas can be a little time-consuming, but the finished product is well worth it. In fact, the finished product is so tasty (not to toot my own horn, but TOOT!) it may be gone in a shorter time than it took you to make them. That’s what happened at my house. I only managed to get ONE photo before they were descended upon by my teens…

Honey Orange Chipotle Carnitas

Ingredients:

  • pork shoulder roast (the one I used was about 5 1/2 lbs)
  • 1 large onion, cut into big chunks (eighths)
  • 1 1/2 tsp regular Adobo seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • one navel orange
  • 1 bottle Windy Wine Company Chipotle Mead

Instructions:

  1. Adjust your oven rack to lower position and preheat oven to 300F.
  2. All your ingredients will go into the Dutch oven. I like to leave any fat on the roast & trim it off after cooking to add moisture and flavor. Even the orange peels will cook with the roast & impart their citrus notes. Pour the mead over top of all the ingredients.
  3. On the stovetop, bring Dutch oven to a simmer over medium-high heat, uncovered. Once a simmer is reached, cover the pot & transfer it to the oven. Cook for about 2-3 hours until the meat is falling apart.
  4. Allow to cool several hours, or ideally, overnight.
  5. Once cooled, you can remove the meat from the pot and begin to separate it, removing the fat & any bones or connective tissue (a shoulder will have 1 small bone). I like to do this with my hands, so I can feel the fat, meat, connective tissue etc easily.
  6. While you are separating the meat, remove the onions, and orange halves from the pot, leaving only cooking liquid behind. Reduce this liquid over high heat until thick and syrupy. It will take about 20 mins for the liquid to reduce.
  7. Tear the meat into bite-size pieces (think pulled pork) and spread evenly on a baking sheet covered with foil.
  8. Pour 4-5 ladles of reduced cooking liquid over the meat.
  9. Bake in a 300F oven for about 15 mins or until browned and a little crispy on the edges. Move meat around and flip during cooking as needed, usually every 3-5 mins.
  10. Serve on warm corn tortillas, with desired accoutrements such asĀ avocado, tomatoes, lettuce, and onions.