For whatever reason, I’ve been cooking a lot of Italian cuisine lately. Might have something to do with the pasta machine I received for Christmas, or it might be because I’m a little infatuated with Giada De Laurentis. In any case, I’ve been churning out lasagna, ravioli, and fettuccine dishes like you wouldn’t believe.

Since I am, at heart, a meatatarian, I try to incorporate as much meat into every dish as I possibly can. To that end, I’ve recently discovered an amazing local butcher shop, Acme Meat Market, located at 9531-76 ave here in Edmonton, AB, as well as a local farmer who raises Berkshire pigs, Irvings Farm. For the last few weeks, Acme has been my go to spot for beef, and Irvings Farm for pork.

With amazing suppliers with these, I figured the best way to make use of all this wonderful meaty goodness would be to make meatballs. Since I couldn’t find a recipe that I liked, I did a little mixing and matching, and came up with a pretty decent concoction of my own:

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Since I was just messing around, the “recipe” is kind of fluid. Also, I was in the mood to freestyle the amounts:

1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
3 cloves garlic, minced
finely diced red bell pepper, maybe 3 or 4 tbsp
about 1 tbsp olive oil
1 egg
about 1/4 cup bread crumbs, maybe more, maybe less. Used panko, since that was all I had on hand
about 1 1/2 tbsp Italian seasoning
salt & pepper to taste
Marinara sauce, about 3 cups.

Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Mix everything in a large bowl. Roll into balls, however large or small you like. Mine were about the size of golf balls. Place the meatballs on a broiler pan.
Brown the meatballs in the oven. Add to marinara sauce and simmer until cooked through, about 45 minutes.

Marinara sauce:

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp sea salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
2 dried bay leaves

In a large casserole pot, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.
Add the celery, carrots, and 1/2 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour.
I dislike “chunky” marinara sauce, so I ran the vegetables through my food processor instead of chopping them. YMMV.
Remove and discard the bay leaf. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper, to taste. (The sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat before using.)