Excellent Spaghetti and Meatballs


This recipe was from the Gourmet January 2009 issue which we revised with a more flavorful sauce.  I held onto it until our tomatoes were ready to pick from our garden to make homemade sauce.  We freeze tons of sauce for use throughout the year.  Everyone has their own sauce and additions to it so play around with it.  As for the meatballs, these were really amazing. I loved them a lot.  This recipe made so many we froze most of them after baking them in the oven a bit.   My husband said these rival his mother’s so that is something to say about these.  Enjoy!

Yield: Makes 12 to 16 servings

Active Time: 2 hr

Total Time: 3 hr

For tomato sauce:

  • 6 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes in juice (or fresh blanched tomatoes with skins removed)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • Fresh Basil and Oregano
  • Sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper
  • Cut down bitterness with some sugar to taste (you made need a lot if you have fresh tomatoes)

For meatballs:

  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 cups torn day-old Italian bread
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/4 pound)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon dried, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground veal
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground pork
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef (not lean)
  • 1 cup olive or vegetable oil

For pasta:

  • 2 pounds dried spaghetti
  • Accompaniment: grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Equipment: a 12-to 16-quart nonreactive heavy pot or 2 smaller nonreactive pots; a 6-to 8-quart pasta pot with a pasta/steamer insert for cooking spaghetti in 2 batches.

Make sauce:

Drain tomatoes, reserving juice in a large bowl. Crush tomatoes with your hands and add to juice. Cook onions in oil in pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes with their juice, 4 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and rest of spices (basil, oregano, bay leaf).  Add sugar or Splenda to cut the bitterness down. Simmer sauce, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Season with salt.

Make meatballs while sauce simmers:

Cook onions in extra-virgin olive oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally,until softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl to cool.

Soak bread in milk in another bowl until soft, about 5 minutes. Firmly squeeze bread to remove excess milk, discarding milk. Stir together cooled onion mixture, bread, eggs, parmesan, parsley, oregano, lemon zest, 51/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoon pepper until combined. Add meats to bread mixture, gently mixing with your hands until just combined (do not overmix). Form meat mixture into about 70 (1 1/2-inch) balls with dampened hands, arranging meatballs on 2 large baking sheets or in shallow baking pans. Heat olive or vegetable oil (1 cup) in a 12-inch heavy skillet (preferably nonstick) over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown meatballs in 4 or 5 batches (without crowding), turning frequently, about 5 minutes per batch. Return to baking sheets. Add meatballs to sauce and gently simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes. (If pot is not large enough, divide meatballs and sauce between 2 pots.)

Prepare pasta:

Cook spaghetti in 2 batches in pasta insert in boiling salted water (3 tablespoon salt for 6 qt water) until just al dente, draining and tossing each batch with some of sauce in a large serving dish. Serve with meatballs, remaining sauce, and grated cheese.

delicious meatballs

Meatballs simmering in the sauce

fresh garlic bread