Baked Meatballs, Tomato Sauce, Brown Rice, and Binyamina Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve
This week we were interested in trying some new stuff. Last week we could not eat meat leftovers, so it was vegan week. However, this week we decided that it was time for some meatballs. We have made meatballs before using a boiling technique in tomato sauce, but I always want to monkey with meatballs, for a reason I truly do not know. So, I went looking around the internet for people’s opinions on meatballs, and most folks are of the opinion of frying or baking, but very FEW recipes recommend boiling meatballs in a sauce. So I went with Alton Brown’s recipe, but used ground almonds to coat the outside of the meatballs instead of breadcrumbs, and the spices from my recipe linked above. We liked the meatballs but where I was looking for a crunch or at least some resistance on the outside of the meatball, we found almost none, this even after baking them at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. I will try this recipe again as I am reticent to fry the meatballs unless I am absolutely forced into that technique to get some crunch. The tomato sauce was the exact recipe I always use, and it was awesome.
Tomato Sauce Recipe:
2 pound of sliced onions
2 tbsp of olive oil
2 tbsp of sea salt
5 cloves of garlic
4 tsp of fresh basil
2 tsp of black pepper
2 28 oz cans of whole tomatoes
2 cups of red wine
The recipe is as simple as it gets. Heat a wide and deep pan with olive oil, once the oil starts to shimmer, add the sliced onions and sprinkle them with salt (to help them release their water), and then sauté them until they brown nicely. Once the onions are browned, drop in the garlic and basil and wait for them to start to toast and become fragrant, NOT TOO long or else it will burn. Then add the tomatoes and wine to the pan, along with some black pepper. Cook the sauce until it starts to reduces by a third, then let cool down over night, reheat the next day and serve with whatever you want.
I wanted to have a nice and powerful red wine for this meal. Normally the pairing calls for a Chianti, Pinot Noir, or acidic Merlot. However, I was in the mood of a bigger wine, so we went with the 2006 Binyamina Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. I bought this wine for a song during the Passover sale, and I regret not buying more. As you will soon see, this wine is already feeling the effects of the mevushal process, but the wine is still awesome and has another year at least. The only other regret I have was not having had a non-mevushal bottle of this wine to compare side by side. Binyamina has started to release mevushal wines for the US market, and seems to do the mevushal process (flash pasteurization) at bottling time, which is the worst time possible. The earlier you do it, the better chance the wine has of surviving it. Hagafen and Herzog have both done fantastic jobs of mevushal-ing their wines and still garnering large and respectable scores. That said, not doing any mevushal-ing is even better! The process of flash pasteurization takes the wine from room temperature to absolute boil (210 degrees or so) and back to room temperature in less than ONE second. Still, one never wants to boil their wines, so doing the process is still harmful to the wines, and the later you do it, the worse it damages the wine as well. So, it would have been great to taste the two wines side by side, one with and without mevushal-ing, but they do not export the non-mevushal wines reserve wines to the US.
As explained already, we normally boil our meatballs in our favorite tomato sauce. However, this time we baked the meatballs and did NOT put them back in the sauce as that would have just made their shell soft. However, we served the baked meatballs alongside brown rice, topped with tomato sauce, and another side of fresh green salad. The wine matched well with the tomato sauce and meatballs, as the wine has enough acidity to match the tomato sauce’s acidity, and enough body to match the meatballs and the earthy almond coating.
The wine note follows below:
2006 Binyamina Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve – Score: A-
The nose on this garnet to black colored wine is hopping with ripe blackberry, raspberry, black plum, rich and extracted oak, loamy dirt, and spice. With time the wine’s nose changes to show mounds of pepper, almost redolent with pepper and some stewed plums or prunes (from the mevushal process). The mouth on this full bodied wine is complex and concentrated with blackberry, ripe plum, and bramble. Clearly the oak and tannins play a huge role in this wine. The body opens and softens with clear oak and tannin presence, along with nice weight. The mid palate is nice and balanced with acid, oak, integrating tannins and a hint of chocolate. The finish is super long and concentrated with blackberry, plum, oak, and a dollop of vanilla and tannins. After time the finish is equally long, super spicy, with oak, an explosion of pepper, blackberry, black plum, along with some nice vanilla at the end.