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Spaghetti and Meatballs

Monday, November 10, 2014

[Recipe makes 8 servings].

Everyone should have a solid go-to dish for when you have company over.  So if you're still looking for a foolproof dish that's sure to please, how about giving spaghetti and meatballs a try?  Once you get the basic process down, you can also skip the pasta and serve these flavorful, juicy meatballs as an appetizer for a party, or serve them in a toasted Italian roll topped with fresh mozzarella and basil for a killer sandwich.

Now if you remember seeing this dish on the blog previously, you're right.  I decided though, that since it's such a classic, it deserves as much additional trial and error as possible - and thus, a re-posting.  I've given recipes a try where they use cubes of bread soaked in milk to keep the meatballs moist, but I've never been pleased with how it ends up incorporating with the other ingredients.  Thus, I prefer using bread crumbs and milk instead.  I've played around with the types and proportions of ground meat, and have concluded that 85/15 ground beef has the perfect amount of fat, while an equal amount of pork sausage adds great flavor as well as texture.  I've also tweaked the amount of seasoning used to really let everything come together.  Top these babies off with a tomato sauce made up from not one but two types of alcohol, and you're in business.


1 1/2 pounds 85% ground beef
1 1/2 pounds ground pork sausage
1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 1/4 ounces (~1/2 cup) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/3 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
Olive oil, for searing

Tomato sauce:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium white onion, finely diced
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1/2 cup red wine
2 tablespoons brandy
2 (12-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
1/4 cup fresh basil, chiffonaded

1 pound dried spaghetti


For the meatballs, combine the beef, pork, bread crumbs, Parmesan, basil, parsley, salt, garlic, pepper flakes, milk, and egg in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low just until combined.  With your hands, form into 2-ounce balls and transfer to a cookie sheet.  [Side note:  You will end up with roughly 27 meatballs.  If you don't have a kitchen scale, quarter the meat, and then divide each quarter into seven equally sized meatballs].  Reserve.

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

For the sauce, heat a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Once heated, add the olive oil followed by the onion and cook until lightly browned.  Add the garlic and anchovy paste and cook for an additional minute, or until fragrant.  Deglaze the pan with red wine.  Increase the heat to medium-high and cook until almost all of the wine has evaporated.  Add the brandy and cook for an additional minute.  Lastly, add the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce and stir.  Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer.

While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta, and heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add the olive oil to the skillet and then add the meatballs in (three to four) batches.  Use a pair of tongs to rotate the meatballs so they get some color on all sides.  Transfer the first batch of seared meatballs to a rimmed sheet pan lined with aluminum foil.  Continue searing the remaining meatballs in batches and transferring to the sheet pan.  Once completed, transfer the sheet pan to the oven and bake until the meatballs are almost fully cooked, roughly 9 minutes.  Remove the meatballs from the oven, add the fresh basil to the sauce, and then transfer the meatballs to your sauce where they'll finish cooking.

Salt your boiling water and add your dried spaghetti.  Boil until al dente, roughly 10 minutes, and then drain.  Mix in some of your sauce with the pasta so that it absorbs the flavors.  Plate with fresh basil and additional Parmesan cheese, if desired.

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