The house red
Today we received the case of 2002 Cellar No. 8 Cabernet Sauvignon, which Aaron and I ordered. We decided that we needed to have a "house red" and once we tried this we each immediately realized it met all of our criteria. It was red (I guess that's the most important and obvious criterion,) it was cheap (less than $8 a bottle w/ a 20% case discount,) and it tasted great.
This cab comes from the North Coast region of California (Napa, Sonoma and nearby counties,) where the best American cabs are born. I'm no wine expert but I can't imagine there being a better cab from Cali for this price. Of course, Aaron and I had to open a bottle tonight. Amazingly the wine took on a different flavor than that of the first bottle we had. It continues to surprise! What a drink.
The first bottle we had with cheese (Emmentaler, Jarlsberg, and Double Gloucester; amazing cheddar) and the wine seemed lighter than a Cabernet should. It was still full, light on the tannins with a long pleasant finish. Tonight we ate Bucatini with Meatballs and the wine was much bolder. The smoothness and long finish was still there but this time the wine tasted much more of berries, especially currant. It was great.
You can probably find a bottle of Cellar No. 8 2002 Cab for a little more than $10 in your local place. It's cheap at twice the price.
Makes about 10, normal sized
1 large pan
1 large bowl
1 ceramic baking dish (optional)
1 lb. of ground chuck (or ground beef w/ 85/15 fat content, if you can't get chuck specifically)
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves or garlic, minced
1 C bread crumbs (make your own with stale bread!)
1/4 grated Parmesan
1 or 2 eggs
red pepper flakes
Constructing the actual meatballs is not a science but the cooking certainly is. Saute the onions and garlic in a large pan with a little olive oil over medium heat for 5 minutes. Put in a large bowl and let cool a bit. Add to the onion the bread crumbs, and season with the herbs, salt, etc. Mix in the ground beef with your hands. Crack the egg into the mixture also (add another egg if the mixture is too dry to stick together well.) Make sure not to mash everything together. That's just going to make meatballs with the consistency of golf balls. Instead work the mixture with your finger tips.
Preheat the oven to 350 and put the large pan over as high a flame as you can get. Wait until the pan is smoking. Now add a few table spoons of olive oil and then, carefully, the meatballs one at a time. Once you get the last one in, its time to get the first ones turned. Shake the pan bit so that the meatballs roll around another face of them gets contact with the pan. The idea here is that you want to get really nice browning on as many sides of the meatballs as you can quickly with the very high heat. If you do that balls won't have time to turn into triangles and loose their shape in the pan. Once most of the meatballs have a nice brown crust on most of their faces, put the meatballs in a ceramic baking dish with some of the oil so they don't stick and put in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes.
This is what I use for the baking part: Le Creuset Oval Stoneware dish You can get it for retail at Williams and Sonoma, at wholesale prices online, or at discount at T.J. Maxx. If you don't have a ceramic baking dish you can use a pyrex dish. You want to make sure that the dish does not transfer heat well, like a metal pan, because then you would have meatballs that were burnt on the bottom. Not tasty.