Friday, January 14, 2011

Spaghetti with Meatballs

For New Year's Eve dinner, I excitedly told Kevin that I was going to make stuffed pork chops.  With a somewhat less than enthusiastic response, he hemmed and hawed, saying no, I should do something simple, like my spaghetti and meatball dish.  Oh ho, little does he know that spaghetti and meatballs is a dish I consider to be somewhat intensive.  And I let him know that in no uncertain terms.

But still, I love the dish so I made it a few days after New Year's.

For spaghetti and meatballs, I turn to Lidia Bastianich and a recipe from one of her cookbooks, The Italian American Kitchen.
Adapted from Lidia Bastianich

  • Two 35-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes, crushed with your hands (Marzano or non, whatever works)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed hot red pepper (original recipe calls for 1 tsp but I worried about it being too spicy)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup fine, dry bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder (the original recipe calls for 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic, but I've found that the garlic doesn't cook that well when it's hiding in the meatball--however, if you don't have garlic powder, no need to go out and buy it just for this recipe, simply use the fresh garlic)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • All-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Let's start with the sauce.

Whoop dee doo.  Heat the oil in large pot over medium heat.  Add in the onion and garlic.

Saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add in the crushed tomatoes, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, about a 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of salt, and about 1/4 tsp ground black pepper.

Bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer.  I usually make the meatballs while the sauce is simmering away. 

In a large bowl, mix together the pork and beef until just combined.  Add in the bread crumbs, parmesan, parsley, and garlic powder. 

In a separate small bowl, whisk up the egg with the salt and pepper.

Pour into meat mixture and mix with your hands, just until combined. No need to overwork.  I think I took a picture of the completed meat mixture, but it was really beyond unattractive, so let's just skip to the meatball part.

Form 1 1/2" meatballs with your hands.

Bouquet of meatballs

At this point, you can move ahead with the recipe, or, if you're like me, you'll put the meatballs in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to let them firm up.

Heat the veggie and olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Dredge the meatballs in flour and shake off the excess.

Gently place the meatballs into the spattering oil. You will probably have to do this in two batches.  Brown the meatballs on all sides, about 2 minutes per side.

I won't lie, this is kind of a pain.  You have to stand over a skillet of spattering oil for about 20 minutes, constantly flipping soft meatballs, trying to get them to balance so all sides get browned, etc. And Kevin thinks this recipe is easy. EASY. I hope he's reading this.

Slip the meatballs into the simmering tomato sauce (I had actually turned off the heat for the sauce for a bit when the meatballs were in the fridge, then brought it back to a simmer while I was browning the meatballs).

Simmer for about 30 minutes, until meatballs are cooked through.

Cook your pasta.

When you drain your pasta, make sure to pour the boiling water out as exuberantly as possible, so some of it splashes up, over the edge of the sink, and onto your hip.  If at all possible, give yourself a second degree burn, and spend the next few hours acting like it's all Kevin's fault.

Anyway, after the boiling water incident, my patience for pictures was pretty nil, hence the half-assed picture below. Stir the pasta with the meatballs and sauce, and you're good to go. I'm going to lick my wounds.  Oh, something about sprinkling with extra Parm whatever get me a bandaid stat.

Ta-da! (wince of pain)


  1. LOL you crack me up! That is the thickest spaghetti I have ever seen! What kind do you use?
    I usually make "Dom's Mom's meatballs" from Dom Delouise's cookbook "Eat this - it will make you feel better", but these look great. I'll have to give them a whirl!

  2. POOOOOR BABEEEEEE!!!!! you're right it is kevin's fault how dare he make you make exuberant pasta.

    I know this is total sacrilege, but I do not prefer marcella's reci for meatballs - I actually really like ina garten's technique of throwing in a half a cup of warm water into the meatball mixture before shaping, and frying sans flour dredge.

  3. LOL. Next time I burn myself in the kitchen, I'm cursing Kevin too. I've never made my own meatballs, but now you have me inspired and hungry.

  4. What size are your balls? HAHA. No really. Ummmm I think I'm going to make these this weekend. I've had a hankering for meatballs and spaghetti. Yum.

  5. Ironically, I had spaghetti with meat sauce last night. Were you channeling me when you wrote this post? Yes, because I'm too lazy to make meatballs. On the upside, thanks to you, at least I know how. ;)

  6. Haha. I love the splashing water comment. I'm with you though, that doesn't look easy.

  7. Yum. This looks so delish! :) I also loved this comment: "spend the next few hours acting like it's all Kevin's fault" -- I may do this, too.

  8. Yay for carbs and meat! Boo for burns :(

  9. I learned this from Alton Brown I think; cook the meatballs in a mini muffin tin in the oven instead of panfrying. Not sure how it would work with the flour dredging, but I find it a lot easier than trying to "brown all sides" of a round object. :) cheers!

  10. maylove: the spaghetti is dececco. honestly, they might seem bigger than they are b/c of my "outstanding" photography skills.

    sashacleo: you've told me that before

    hotcocoa: kevin's FAMOUS!

    lobster: so mature.

    jessica: we were thinking along the same lines! and you were clearly smarter than me.

    mintedlife: it hurt. and yes, kevin should know that this isn't easy. do you hear me kevin??

    fromscratch: it's a good technique to make your loved ones feel guilty.

    bigapplenosh: for carbs and meat, i guess a little burn is worth it.

    honey: oh my god that sounds genius! thank you!!

  11. I use our family sauce recipe, but I CANNOT, for the life of me, make meatballs that taste good! I am going to try your recipe! :)