Jay Beeler and her father James Beeler aka "Big Jim Chef" share his signature recipe for meatballs with fresh oven roasted tomatoes. The recipe can also be found in Jay's book "Tasting and Touring Michigan's Homegrown Food: A Culinary Roadtrip."
1. Jaye Beeler, the author of Tasting and Touring Michigan's Homegrown Food: A Culinary Roadtrip, is here with her dad, James Beeler, aka Big Jim Chef, from Scottsdale, Arizona.
2. Jaye's dad helped her perfect many of the recipes in Tasting and Touring Michigan. One long weekend in January, Jaye's dad flew into town and together they kitchen-tested the book's recipes, which were then photographed by Dianne Carroll Burdick.
3. Today's recipe, Big Jim's meatballs and oven-roasted tomato sauce, is freak-out delicious for two reasons.
Reason 1: The big meatballs are a specialty of Jaye's dad. They are a meal in of-itself. The secret ingredient is adding sausage to the ground beef - super juicy.
Reason 2: Oven-roasting the tomato concentrates everything good in this amazing sauce, studded with fresh herbs. Jaye likes to oven-roast batch after batch of tomatoes to freeze for a winter's day. This is the time - for glorious tomatoes.
4. On Oct. 10 -- Jaye is teaching a "Totally Tomatoes" class at the Spartan Stores Culinary Classroom at the Grandville Family Fare.
To register, call 1-888-296-5850 or email email@example.com
5. Big Jim's Meatballs and oven-roasted tomato sauce
2 pounds ground chuck, preferably grass-fed and organic
1 pound bulk Italian sausage, casing removed
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh leafy green herb, such as
parsley, oregano, marjoram
Ground black pepper
¾ cup to 1 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 bell pepper, seeded and
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
3 pounds oven-roasted tomatoes, skins pinched if desired (see recipe in Jaye Beeler's Tasting and Touring Michigan's Homegrown Food: A Culinary Roadtrip)
1 (28-ounce) cans organic crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup red wine
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves
2 pounds whole-wheat spaghetti
PREPARATION: Line a shallow baking pan with aluminum
foil; lightly spray with cooking spray. Heat oven to
In a large bowl, combine ground beef, pork sausage,
Parmesan cheese, egg, onion, garlic, chopped fresh herbs,
ground pepper, and bread crumbs. With wet hands,
combine until evenly mixed. Shape mixture into 1½-
inch balls. You should be able to form about 28. Place
meatballs on prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes until
browned and cooked nearly through. Transfer to paper
towel-lined baking sheet to drain.
For the sauce, in a sturdy stockpot, warm olive oil and
sauté onions (and carrot and bell pepper) until soft and
golden; do not let brown. Add garlic and sauté another
minute. Roughly puree oven-roasted tomatoes in a food processor and add, along with canned tomatoes with juices, paste, red wine, and
sugar; bring to a simmer and let sauce thicken for 45 minutes.
Stir in parsley and basil, season with salt and pepper
to taste and continue simmering another 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling salted water until al
dente, drain and divide among serving plates. Top with
sauce and meatballs. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan
cheese, if desired.