Slow-Cooker Meatballs and Marinara
From Cook's Country
Since we were preparing a slow-cooker recipe, we needed a way to infuse the sauce for our Slow-Cooker Meatballs and Marinara with the depth it usually gets from an hour-long simmer on the stove. Sautéing tomato paste, onions, and garlic before adding them to the slow cooker bloomed their flavors and gave the sauce a meaty base. Microwaving the meatballs before adding them to the slow cooker rendered just enough fat (which we discarded) to ensure the sauce wouldn’t be greasy. Thickening the meatballs with a panade—a paste of milk and bread—caused them to break apart. The bread absorbed too much liquid, becoming slimy and losing its binding power. We replaced the milk with cream, which added moisture and richness, and swapped out the bread for mozzarella cheese, which enriched the meatballs. It was important to use the proper amount of cheese in our Slow-Cooker Meatballs and Marinara so the meatballs didn’t taste more like mozzarella than meat.
Microwave the meatballs on a large plate or in a casserole dish to contain the rendering fat. You will need two 4.5-ounce tubes or one 6-ounce can of tomato paste. This recipe makes enough sauce to coat 1 1/2 pounds of pasta. Use a garlic press to mince the 8 cloves quickly.
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