The Sauce: Marinara Sauce – Rich, full flavored, home simmered for a couple hours until the flavors meld into irresistible pasta sauce.
‘Great Sauces Transform Good Food into Gourmet’
Meatball day happens once a week in some households. In China narrow carts nudge around crowded tables offering the original ‘small plates’ with steamed meatballs and soy sauce. Glistening red lingonberry jam accents cream gravy seasoned with allspice and smothered Swedish meatballs. Maybe your favorite are the bristly Porcupine Meatballs with protruding rice that become popular on Depression era tables in the United States to stretch every food dollar. But let’s do Italy.
Southern Italian meatballs are tender, juicy and immersed in rich tomato marinara. These, made with fresh bread crumbs, are way better than those with dry breadcrumbs. Traditionally served over spaghetti, any long pasta works such as fettucini, bucatini or fusilli lunghi. I’ve said before that ragu or bolognese sauce evenly distributes the meat over the pasta plus it’s faster. Maybe I’ll renege because these meatballs are well worth a little extra time. Is today your meatball day?
Recipe: Spaghetti and Meatballs
Active Time: 20 Minutes | Total Time: 35 Minutes | Yield: 4-6 Servings
1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese, plus extra for garnish
2 tsp chopped fresh parsley, plus extra for garnish
1/2 clove garlic, grated
freshly ground pepper
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 to 1/1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 cup olive oil, for cooking
4-5 cups Marinara Sauce
hot cooked spaghetti
Special Equipment – large skillet, medium pot
1 Combine beef, eggs, cheese, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper and blend together with hands.
2 Add bread crumbs and work into meat mixture. Add water 1/2 cup at a time until mixture is very moist.
3 Heat oil in a large sauté pan until very hot but not smoking. Brown meatballs in batches with space between each ball; don’t over crowd. Once the bottom is very brown turn and cook top. Remove and drain on rack. Meatballs will continue to cook in the marinara sauce so they don’t need to be cooked all the way to the center.
4 Place the meatballs in simmering marinara sauce and cook for 15 minutes to meld flavors and cook through to the center. Serve alone or over pasta. Garnish with extra Parmigiana-Reggiano and parsley.
To make fresh bread crumbs place several slices of bread in a food processor and process into crumbs.
Dry bread crumbs absorb too much liquid.
Bake the meatballs for 10-15 minutes on 375 degrees.
Use an small ice cream scoop to quickly form meatballs.
Serve over spaghetti squash to reduce carbs.
Form 2-inch or 3-inch size meatballs for spectacular, one giant meatball per serving. Simmer in the marinara sauce long enough to cook through the center.
- Exchange ground beef for meatloaf mix (ground beef, pork and veal) or use a combinatin of ground beef and turkey.
- Exchange Parmigiana-Regianno for Pecorino Romano cheese.
Inspiration – Rao’s Meatballs
Cook with Sauces
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Written by Helen Horton
Photographs by Helen Horton
Updated: April 18, 2014