4 Levels of Spaghetti & Meatballs: Amateur to Food Scientist

We challenged chefs of three different levels - an amateur, a home cook and a professional chef - to make their versions of spaghetti & meatballs. And then we brought in a food scientist to review their work. Which one was the best? Check out the professional's recipe here on the ICE blog: https://www.ice.edu/blog/pro-chef-spaghetti-and-meatballs-recipe

Released on 11/19/2018

Transcript

00:00
[machine whirring]
00:04
[upbeat music]
00:06
Hi, I'm Elina Stella.
00:08
I'm a level one chef.
00:09
My name is Lorenzo.
00:10
I'm a level two chef.
00:12
My name is Frank.
00:13
I'm level three.
00:14
[upbeat music]
00:16
The last time I made spaghetti and meatballs
00:18
was last Christmas.
00:20
The last time I made spaghetti and meatballs
00:22
was actually Thursday because Thursday's my pasta night.
00:24
This is the recipe that we normally make
00:26
for Sunday dinner.
00:27
I would consider myself an expert.
00:39
First I'm gonna start with the meatballs
00:41
since they take a little bit longer.
00:42
Just place that into the bowl, pound of meat.
00:44
Beef for meatballs is completely fine,
00:47
but me I like to add a little bit more flavor
00:49
and why not add pork sausage.
00:51
When I make meatballs I like to use
00:52
three different kinds of meat, beef, pork and veal.
00:54
Right in front of me I have a grinder set up.
00:57
It'll grind it up, it'll mechanically tenderize it.
01:00
Let me start with a Spanish onion.
01:01
Onion.
01:02
I'll saute this in a pan.
01:04
I'm gonna add some garlic.
01:05
Garlic.
01:07
If you ever see little green stuff,
01:09
take that out.
01:10
You will have heartburn and indigestion.
01:12
We are not browning these vegetables,
01:15
we're sweating them to get
01:16
the natural sugars out and the moisture out of it.
01:19
Half a cup of bread crumbs.
01:20
Bread crumbs.
01:20
I'm gonna combine this with
01:22
Panko
01:23
and Italian bread crumbs.
01:25
Quarter cup of milk to keep the meatballs moist.
01:27
Some times people will add milk to this.
01:29
I don't really like milk in my meatballs.
01:31
I'm gonna add four eggs.
01:33
[Elina] One egg.
01:34
It helps keep everything together.
01:36
And I'm just gonna ninja one egg into the bowl and
01:39
parmesan grated cheese.
01:41
I use pecorino romano just for the fact
01:43
that it's really salty and sharp.
01:45
A little bit of basil.
01:47
You must add salt.
01:49
Salt brings out the flavor of everything.
01:50
Pepper.
01:51
If you can fresh grind the pepper, it's even better.
01:53
And then what you do now
01:54
is you get in there with your hands.
01:58
Ah, this feels really strange.
01:59
My hands are clean, I promise.
02:01
And that's it, that's my mix.
02:04
Now we scoop.
02:04
[Elina] Roll them into two inch sized balls.
02:06
I think that's a good size.
02:09
Boom, boom, boom.
02:10
Karate chop, karate chop.
02:11
I always get a little ninja in there.
02:13
Bigger than golf ball size.
02:15
Boom, boom, kaboom.
02:17
I like to use an ice cream scoop.
02:18
This not only makes things more uniform,
02:19
it's actually much, much quicker.
02:22
My sauce comes from a jar.
02:24
[laughs]
02:25
Alright, so I'm gonna get started with my sauce,
02:27
which is basically an easy-peasy marinara sauce.
02:31
What we're gonna do is start with the other half
02:33
of this Spanish onion.
02:34
Just dice it up.
02:36
Again, I like garlic.
02:37
And then I'm actually gonna add sweetness to the sauce
02:40
by using a good old carrot.
02:42
'Cause we're using whole peeled tomatoes,
02:46
there's always this canned taste to it.
02:49
So in order to get rid of that,
02:50
you add sugar.
02:51
The secret to my sauce
02:53
is that everything's in one pot.
02:54
We brown the meatballs in the pot,
02:56
our oil is flavored with the meatball juices, basically.
02:59
Canned tomatoes, which we're using
03:01
tend to be a little acidic.
03:03
So when you put onions in there or you put basil in there,
03:05
a little bit of orange,
03:06
it makes the sauce a little sweeter.
03:08
Don't need a ton of garlic.
03:09
I put a bay leaf in.
03:11
But with the orange rind and my basil,
03:13
I like to tie it together with some butcher's twine.
03:16
In the kitchen we call this a sashay
03:17
or a bouquet garni.
03:18
And to get that Italiano feel to it.
03:22
[laughs]
03:22
We're gonna add
03:23
some parmesan rind to it.
03:25
I like to use
03:26
canned, peeled, crushed tomatoes, no skin.
03:28
I also like to use a little tomato paste.
03:30
Tomato paste adds a little texture to your sauce.
03:33
Makes your sauce a little thicker.
03:34
[Elina] So now we add the tomato sauce.
03:37
Make sure you cover all of them.
03:40
I also like to add seasoning at this point.
03:42
Little bit of black pepper and salt.
03:44
You gotta be careful with the salt because if you
03:46
put too much now,
03:48
the sauce is gonna cook down,
03:49
it's gonna be a little too salty.
03:50
And I'm gonna add basil and oregano.
03:52
That's something that my mom does every time
03:54
she makes meatballs and she puts it right in the sauce.
03:56
I really like basil so,
03:58
I don't mind adding a little bit more.
04:01
The juices from the meatballs will just
04:03
accentuate the taste of this sauce.
04:05
And the longer you cook it,
04:06
the more thicker the sauce will be.
04:08
Alright, meatballs, swim.
04:09
This not only flavors your sauce,
04:10
it also helps to keep the meatballs tender.
04:13
And then I'm gonna let this cook for about
04:15
40 minutes to 60 minutes.
04:17
Now we're gonna do the spaghetti.
04:18
My spaghetti's pretty simple,
04:19
I get it straight from the box.
04:21
I have fresh pasta today.
04:24
Bucatini pasta.
04:25
Why not get it
04:26
as close to restaurant quality as you can?
04:29
Boxed pasta's really great for everyday,
04:30
but if you really love people, you make fresh pasta.
04:32
Today, we're gonna make a small batch.
04:35
Most people would say it's really difficult,
04:36
but it's not hard at all.
04:38
[upbeat music]
04:41
Nice spaghetti.
04:42
Once I take them out of the box,
04:44
I crack them in half.
04:47
Okay.
04:48
[laughs]
04:49
Just so that they fit in the pan a little bit easier.
04:50
Here we go.
04:51
One nest of pasta,
04:53
two nests of pasta,
04:55
and you immediately
04:56
stir pasta in the water
04:59
or else clumpville.
05:00
And now that it's boiling,
05:03
we're gonna put the pasta in.
05:04
I add salt and olive oil
05:07
just 'cause that's what I've been told to do.
05:09
I don't exactly know what it does, but
05:11
I'm gonna say it adds flavor.
05:13
You never add oil to your boiling pasta.
05:17
Somebody had said that somewhere
05:18
and people believed them.
05:19
[laughs]
05:20
It's wrong.
05:21
The sauce will just slip and slide away.
05:22
It's important to salt your water,
05:24
not only to season the pasta,
05:25
but the sauce actually brings the temperature of the water
05:27
up quicker.
05:28
A dry pasta would take about 10 minutes to cook
05:30
but a fresh pasta only takes two to three minutes.
05:32
And that's it, that's our spaghetti.
05:34
That
05:35
looks
05:36
good.
05:37
[laughs]
05:38
[upbeat music]
05:46
[playful music]
05:50
I think this looks pretty good.
05:52
I can see the browning on this meatball
05:55
and I'm really excited about that.
05:56
The cheese looks awesome.
05:57
This is spaghetti and meatballs my way.
05:59
Beautiful homemade pasta,
06:00
nice, torn basil leaves gives a little sweetness.
06:03
Delicious.
06:04
I'm going for it.
06:06
Mmm.
06:08
Mmmm, mmm.
06:09
Just delicious.
06:10
Mmm.
06:12
It's really good.
06:13
I think my grandma would be proud.
06:14
[Elina laughs]
06:15
Delicioso. Wow.
06:19
Spaghetti and meatballs
06:20
is a delicious and traditional dish
06:21
and it shows how starches and proteins come together
06:24
in pasta, in meatballs, as well as sauce.
06:27
Let's cover the pasta first.
06:28
[intense music]
06:31
Boxed pastas are really
06:33
delicious and they work really well
06:34
for certain applications.
06:37
There we go.
06:38
Typically, they don't have egg added to them.
06:39
They're just based on a wheat-based flour and water
06:42
and so you get this nice,
06:44
dried pasta that has a real toothy quality to it.
06:47
It has an al dente quality so you get a bite to that pasta.
06:52
Mmm, yeah.
06:53
They're perfect.
06:54
You won't get that with fresh, supple pastas
06:55
that you either buy fresh in the store
06:57
or pastas that you make yourself
07:00
by the addition of eggs to a wheat-based flour.
07:03
When you add your pasta to boiling salted water,
07:05
just like Frank said...
07:07
Your water should be sea salty.
07:08
Some chefs recommend that your water
07:10
be just about as saline as the ocean.
07:13
You wanna add your salt to the already boiling water,
07:16
otherwise it just takes too much time to heat the water up.
07:19
Also, as Lorenzo said,
07:20
we don't wanna add olive oil to the pasta water.
07:24
No bueno.
07:25
[laughs]
07:25
Mostly because
07:26
once you take the pasta and finish it in the sauce,
07:28
the oil is gonna prevent it from adhering
07:30
to the sauce very well.
07:31
The sauce will just slip and slide away.
07:33
[intense music]
07:35
When you're making meatballs,
07:37
typically, you're gonna be adding some sort of a starch,
07:39
like a bread or bread crumbs.
07:40
You're also gonna add eggs.
07:41
Bread crumbs are gonna act as a nice tenderizer.
07:45
They're gonna give a soft quality to your meatball
07:47
and the eggs are gonna act as an emulsifier.
07:49
It's gonna hold together the bread, and the meat,
07:53
and all of the other components
07:54
into one delicious, kind of emulsified meatball.
07:57
Egg yolks contain something called phospholipids.
08:00
Phospholipids have
08:02
one part of the molecule that loves water,
08:04
so it's hydrophilic,
08:05
and one part that is hydrophobic.
08:07
It doesn't like water.
08:08
So your phospholipids act as a bridge
08:11
between the water soluble
08:12
and the water insoluble parts
08:14
so you have really nice structure in your meatball.
08:17
It's fantastic!
08:18
You enhance the flavor greatly
08:19
by browning your meatballs first.
08:21
That comes about because of something called
08:23
the Maillard Reaction.
08:24
You also get a really nice sensory experience
08:26
because the browning imparts
08:28
a lot of flavor but it also looks much nicer.
08:30
If you don't brown your meatballs first,
08:33
they're not gonna go through that Maillard Reaction
08:35
because you have too much water present,
08:36
which inhibits Maillard browning.
08:39
So you're gonna get a gray-looking meatball.
08:40
That's not very appealing from a sensory perspective.
08:43
Oooh, a nice meatball hoagie.
08:45
Ugh God.
08:46
Please help me.
08:47
[intense music]
08:51
Elina used jar sauce.
08:52
My sauce comes from a jar.
08:53
You might find ingredients in these sauces
08:56
that you don't wanna have in your pasta dish.
08:57
Things like high fructose corn syrup,
08:59
occasionally some sort of added starches,
09:02
and these things help to thicken
09:04
and give sweetness to the sauce,
09:05
but it's not a real authentic tomato tasting sauce.
09:08
Try to make it look nice.
09:10
When you're making your own homemade tomato sauce,
09:12
you wanna layer flavors.
09:13
As Frank did, he started with garlic and onions in oil.
09:17
And that's really important because
09:18
many of the flavoring compounds
09:19
are dissolved in the oil.
09:21
So you start off with a really nice baseline of flavor
09:24
and then you add the tomatoes to it.
09:27
When you are using
09:28
fresh tomatoes...
09:30
They are whole peeled tomatoes.
09:32
The temperature at which you cook your sauce
09:33
can make a real difference.
09:35
If you use a slow, moderate heat,
09:37
there are some compounds in the tomato
09:40
called hemicellulose and pectin
09:41
that give the tomato it's soft, juicy flavor,
09:44
but also some structure to the tomato.
09:47
If you used a canned tomato,
09:48
typically, they are autoclaved
09:50
at a very high temperature
09:52
and the enzymes that promote this fresh quality
09:55
to your sauce
09:56
are deactivated just because of the high heat.
09:58
To remedy that canned type of taste,
10:00
you might wanna balance out the sweetness.
10:02
But you don't need to add sucrose,
10:04
you don't need to add white sugar to your sauce.
10:05
You can add some natural sweetness
10:08
in the form of say, a carrot,
10:10
like Lorenzo did.
10:11
Carrot.
10:12
Frank, on the other hand,
10:13
used an orange and this adds some complex flavors
10:16
and it adds a really nice sweet quality to the tomatoes
10:19
that Frank used.
10:20
I think it gives a really nice background flavor.
10:22
[intense music]
10:24
When you're choosing a cheese to use
10:26
with your spaghetti and meatballs,
10:27
you have a lot of options.
10:28
Traditionally, parmesan is used.
10:30
Parmesan cheese
10:31
is one of my favorite cheeses.
10:32
This is a really nice complex but slightly mild
10:35
and nutty kind of flavor that goes with
10:37
your spaghetti and meatballs.
10:38
In Frank's case, he used a...
10:39
Pecorino romano.
10:40
Which is also delicious form a different region
10:42
in Italy, but it's got more of a peppery bite to it.
10:45
It's a lot of flavor in a smaller amount.
10:48
Parmesan, you need a lot more to get that
10:50
really nice cheese flavor.
10:51
So you might wanna use a pecorino romano
10:53
with a sweeter type of tomato sauce
10:55
than with a more mild type of tomato sauce,
10:58
in which case you might wanna use the parmesan.
11:00
Spaghetti and meatballs may seem like
11:03
a really standard dish, but there's a lot
11:04
of changes you can make.
11:05
Whether it be the type of pasta you choose
11:07
from commercial pasta to homemade pasta,
11:09
jarred sauce or homemade sauce,
11:11
as well as grinding your own meat to make meatballs.
11:14
Always be aware of the ingredients you use,
11:16
where they come from,
11:17
and keep in mind the delicious result
11:19
that you're searching for.
11:24
And that's it, you guys.
11:26
[laughs]