I’ve been cooking marinara sauce since I was 10 years old. I mostly knew my mom’s recipe which called for tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, seasonings and ground beef. I also was taught by my stepgrandfather whose marinara sauce was a favorite among the grandchildren. He only used Italian imported tomato sauce, made homemade meatballs and threw in Italian sausage. He also preferred penne pasta which would catch big pockets of sauce with each bite. When my husband and I were first married this was one dish we cooked every week, but instead of doing meatballs we kept it simple with sauteed ground beef. When my daughter was 3, I decided to start making meatballs because I thought it would be a great activity to get her involved in the kitchen. That was 3 years ago, last night while having a guest over for dinner I watched her stir in ingredients, mush up the meatballs, and form all on her own. Last night we also made the best meatballs yet by cooking them in bacon grease leftover from breakfast. Another reason bacon makes everything better. The flavor the bacon grease added was incredible. (Before you knock it- bacon grease is flavorful, reusable, natural, and there’s 38 calories in a teaspoon.) We make pretty great meatballs, but last night they definitely stole the show with the everyone at the table.
Marinara Sauce With Meatballs Cooked In Bacon Grease, serves 4
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
4 sprigs fresh oregano
2 cups fresh tomatoes, diced (or 1 large can diced tomatoes)
1 large can tomato sauce
10-12 Meatballs cooked in bacon grease (see recipe below)
Fresh basil, chopped
Heat olive oil in pan over medium-high heat. When sizzling, reduce heat and add garlic, shallot, and salt. Cook until golden brown.
Add fresh oregano, then add diced tomatoes, cook until broken down into a soupy mixture.
Add tomato sauce. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and dried oregano. Cook on Low for 30 minutes.
Add meatballs and cook for another 15 minutes on Low.
Serve over noodles and top with fresh basil.
Meatballs Cooked In Bacon Grease
1 1/2 lb ground beef
1 cup breadcrumbs (you don’t have to use store bought breadcrumbs, you can toast a few slices of bread and crumble them up)
2 freshly cracked eggs
2 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp pepper
3-4 Tbsp bacon grease
Heat oven to Broil.
In large bowl mix together all ingredients except bacon grease. Best way to mix is to squeeze with clean hands until all ingredients are incorporated.
In a large baking dish with sides pour in bacon grease.
Form 10-12 meatballs and place in dish with grease.
Bake 10 minutes on lower self on Broil. Check meatballs when they are slightly crispy on top transfer to marinara pot. (Remember they will cook more in the marinara so do not over cook them in the oven.)
Remember marinara sauce is even better the next day!