Spaghetti and Meatballs is a traditional Italian-American dish and was created by Italian immigrants at the beginning of the 20th century in the U.S.
In Italy meatballs are not generally served over pasta, but rather as a second course along with a side of vegetables. When meatballs are cooked in tomato sauce, this is often utilized for pasta, which traditionally would be served as a first course and in portions much smaller than what is normally served in the U.S. or in other countries.
With or without pasta, this is a good and simple recipe for meatballs sauce.
Ingredients and Instructions (serves 4):
• 2 eggs
• 1 pound/450 grams of ground beef
• ¼ pound/110 grams of ground pork
• 6 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
• 3.5 ounces/100 grams of fresh artisan bread crumbs
• 2 tablespoons of Italian parsley, finely chopped
• salt and pepper
• 1 pinch of nutmeg
• 28 ounces/790 grams of tomato puree
• 4 tablespoons of olive oil
• 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 1 medium onion, finely chopped
• 6 leaves of fresh basil, cut in ribbons
1. Start by removing enough soft crumbs from a loaf of artisan bread to make the necessary quantity as indicated above. Using your hands or with the help of a food processor reduce it into fine crumbs (using fresh crumbs instead of dry will make the meatballs moister).
2. In a large mixing bowl combine both types of meat with the bread crumbs, the 2 eggs, grated Parmesan cheese, chopped parsley, nutmeg, a pinch of salt and one of pepper.
3. Work the ingredients together so to obtain a smooth mixture, then transfer the bowl to the refrigerator and let the mix rest for about one hour.
4. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over low heat, gently sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil, stirring frequently to avoid burning, until the onion becomes translucent.
5. Add the tomato puree, a pinch of salt and pepper and bring to a light boil. At this point, you should have the meatballs ready to be cooked in the sauce. If not, cover the skillet remove it from the heat and keep it warm.
6. Prepare the meat balls, by rolling some of the meat mixture in the palms of your hands and form a small ball, about 1½ inch (4 cm) in diameter. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.
7. Gently lay the meatballs in the skillet with the tomato sauce, shaking it lightly to get them to set in the sauce. Add the basil and let them cook slowly, covering the pan with a lid and over low heat, for about ½ hour, until the meatballs are fully cooked and the sauce has thickened. Don’t forget to adjust salt and pepper again at the end.
8. When the meatballs are almost done, bring a tall pot of water to a boil and add a generous tablespoon of salt. Don’t worry, you won’t eat all that salt, the pasta will absorb only a small part of it and will taste wonderful. Add the spaghetti to the pot and cook al dente.
9. Pour the pasta into a large serving bowl, pour over the meatballs and sauce, stir well and quickly to coat the pasta completely and prevent it from sticking together. Serve immediately and top with grated Parmesan cheese.
Cinzia Aversa, 2013