Sunday, June 6, 2010

New Spaghetti and Meatball Recipe

I'm working on a new recipe for spaghetti and meatballs and this past weekend I tried it out for Sunday dinner. I thought they were pretty good, but I have a feeling I'll still keep tinkering.  Here it is so far.  I'd love to hear from you if you try it out!!

Recipe by Susan Lutz copyright 2010

Spaghetti and Meatballs is a classic Italian Sunday dinner meal.  I have several recipes for meatballs and "gravy", as my Italian friends refer to it, but this is my favorite and it’s based on verbal instructions I received from several Italian-American friends.  (None of them have a written recipe!)  My friend Jena never cooks her meatballs before dropping them in the sauce because that's the way her mother always did it, and she says it helps keep the meatballs tender.  She’s right, and I love this method because it’s so much easier than frying or baking the meatballs first.  If you make the meatballs from ground turkey, you don’t even have to skim the fat off the top of the sauce.

I start this recipe by preparing the meatballs first.  If ground meat is on sale, I will make a double-recipe and freeze them uncooked.  I take them out of the freezer the day before I want to make my next batch of spaghetti and meatballs and drop them right into the sauce.  Couldn’t be easier.

Ingredients for Meatballs
  • 1.25 pounds ground meat  (I like to use ground turkey with 3 percent fat, but you can also substitute ground beef with the same fat content)
  • 1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup onion, grated on the large-hole side of a box grater
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • ½ cup finely grated Pecornino Romano  or Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley (or 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped)
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Instructions for Meatballs
In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients and stir until just mixed together.  Do not overmix.

Roll meat mixture into small meatballs, approximately 1-inch in diameter.  Place on tray or cookie sheet in a single layer until you’re ready to use them.  I make them just before cooking the sauce so I leave them on the counter, but you can also make them ahead of time and keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.

Ingredients for Sauce and Pasta
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 large onion, grated on the large-hole side of a box grater
  • 4 cloves of garlic, run through a garlic press or finely chopped
  • 1 6-ounce can of tomato paste
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • 2 28-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup of red wine
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley (or 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or ½ teaspoon Iodized salt)
  • ¼  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • ¼ to ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 cup fresh basil
Instructions for Sauce and Pasta
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onions and sauté, stirring occasionally until lightly browned.  Add garlic and sauté for an additional minute, being careful that it does not burn it.

Add tomato paste and thyme and stir over medium heat for an additional 1 to 2 minutes. 

Add chicken stock, red wine, parsley, salt, and pepper.

Gently drop meatballs into the sauce and stir.  Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered for at least 1 hour, or until meatballs are no longer pink in the center and cut easily with a fork.

The longer the sauce cooks, the better it will be.  If using ground beef for the meatballs, you may need to skim the fat off the top of the sauce before serving.

To serve, cook spaghetti according to package directions and place in large serving bowl.  Spoon hot sauce and meatballs over pasta and stir.  Tear basil into small pieces and sprinkle on top, along with the grated Parmesan cheese.