Recipes – Spaghetti and Meatballs

Recipes - Spaghetti and MeatballsEveryone has a recipe for making Spaghetti and Meatballs. This is a tribute to all those families who have made this meal for generations. Special thanks to my father, who taught me this variation. The process is very involved, so be sure to have everything mise en place.

Tomato Sauce:
1-2 cans of plum tomatos (pref. San Marzano)
1-2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, minced
½ cup of dry red wine (pref. Italian Chianti)
¼ cup of sugar
Salt and Pepper (to taste)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced

Meatballs:
2 slices of toasted bread, crumbled
½ cup of buttermilk

1 pound ground beef
½ pound ground pork
¼ cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
3 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, minced
2 egg yolks
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon salt
Ground pepper
1-2 cups of vegetable oil

The tomato sauce should be prepared first, well in advance (some prepare it hours ahead), but at the very least a half hour before adding the meatballs. I prefer “whole peeled” plum tomatoes from San Marzano, but if you don’t have a food processor to cut them up, I suggest the “crushed” style.

Add the tomatoes into a 6-quart saucepot. Bring to a simmer, and wait for it to begin thickening, usually between 10-20 minutes. Add the garlic and basil. Add salt and pepper to taste, stir and simmer for a few minutes. Add the red wine and sugar, and stir occasionally for another 20-30 minutes. If you’re going to stretch out the prep-time, I suggest adding the red wine and sugar after an hour, and let it simmer for well over an hour before adding the meatballs.

Combine the bread and buttermilk in a bowl, stir with a fork, and let it sit aside, roughly 10 minutes.

Combine the meats, then the grated cheese, minced parsley, garlic, egg yolks, and salt in a bowl. Pepper to taste. Add the bread mixture and combine until evenly mixed. Shape mixture into 1- to 2-inch meatballs. Put on a plate, cover, and place in the fridge (if the tomato sauce is not ready yet).

Pour the vegetable oil into a skillet so there’s a modest amount to fry the meatballs in. Turn the heat to medium-high; it will take a few minutes to get ready. It’s great if you have a pair of tongs for this part. Fry the meatballs in batches, turning them several times to brown evenly on all sides. This process usually takes about 10-15 minutes per batch. Keep the oil sizzling, but reduce the heat if it begins to smoke. Transfer the cooked meatballs to a dish covered in paper towels to soak up any excess oil.

Bring a big pot of water to a boil for the spaghetti.

Once all the meatballs are cooked, discard the excess oil, but return the pan to medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and garlic, scrape up all the browned bits of meatball left in the pan (quickly, no more than a minute), and stir it into the simmering pot of tomato sauce.

Once that’s done, add the meatballs to the pot of tomato sauce and cover for anywhere between 10-20 minutes. That’s all the time you need.

Add your pasta of choice, along with a dash of salt. Usually takes around 10 minutes to cook al dente, drain, and place in a big bowl. Add some olive oil to loosen it up, and then serve as you like, topping it off with hefty portions of meatballs and tomato sauce. Add some of that grated Parmesan cheese to it, and you got yourself one of the best dinners around.