Spaghetti and Meatballs

Beef, Italian, Main Courses, Pasta / Saturday, February 14th, 2009


Before I started dating Jeff, I couldn’t stand cooking with someone else in the kitchen. But I’ve come around. For one thing, he has excellent taste in kitchen music, which means lots of dancing while you’re cooking. For another, some recipes are much easier with four hands. Like Ina Garten’s Real Meatballs and Spaghetti, one of this month’s Barefoot Bloggers recipes.

Jeff was all about this one. Meatballs with veal,  pork AND beef? Yes. And it was the perfect recipe for taking his new meat grinder on its maiden voyage. He processed the sirloin roast and a half-pound of pork cut from a full pork loin in about 30 seconds. Then I mixed the meat with the ground veal and formed the meatballs. The recipe says you’ll have 14 to 16 meatballs. That’s 14 to 16 meatballs the size of billiard balls. Ina’s meatballs are no joke.

After Jeff browned the meatballs, we used the same pan to make the sauce and simmered the meatballs in the sauce for about 30 minutes. (Most of the liquid evaporates, so if you like to see the sauce on your plate, make a double batch.) The meatballs were good straight out of the pan, but they had much more flavor after soaking in the sauce overnight. With this many meatballs, it’s a good thing they get better with time.

Anyway, this Valentine’s Day, I hope you have someone to dance with in the kitchen.

Real Meatballs and Spaghetti

From Ina Garten’s “Barefoot Contessa Family Style”

Serves 6

For the Meatballs:

  • 1/2 pound ground veal
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup fresh white bread crumbs (4 slices, crusts removed)
  • 1/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 extra-large egg, beaten
  • Vegetable oil
  • Olive oil

For the Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup good red wine, such as Chianti
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, or plum tomatoes in puree, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For Serving:

  • 1 1/2 pounds spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
  • Freshly grated Parmesan
  1. Place the ground meats, both bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, egg, and 3/4 cup warm water in a bowl. Combine very lightly with a fork. Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs. You will have 14 to 16 meatballs.
  2. Pour equal amounts of vegetable oil and olive oil into a large (12-inch) skillet to a depth of 1/4-inch. Heat the oil. Very carefully, in batches, place the meatballs in the oil and brown them well on all sides over medium-low heat, turning carefully with a spatula or a fork. This should take about 10 minutes for each batch. Don’t crowd the meatballs. Remove the meatballs to a plate covered with paper towels. Discard the oil but don’t clean the pan.
  3. For the sauce, heat the olive oil in the same pan. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the wine and cook on high heat, scraping up all the brown bits in the pan, until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, salt, and pepper.
  4. Return the meatballs to the sauce, cover, and simmer on the lowest heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through. Serve hot on cooked spaghetti and pass the grated Parmesan.


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19 thoughts on “Spaghetti and Meatballs

  1. Yum- I love a good meal of spaghetti and meatballs! I’m often too lazy to use my hands to roll them and sometimes even a scoop is too much trouble, so I’ve developed a way to make square meat’balls’ that are much less labor intensive to shape.

    I pat ethe mixture ot into a 1 inch thick meatloaf on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Then I cut them into 1 inch squares and bake them off. Easy!

  2. This is such a great recipe. Your pic is definite food porn.

    I still haven’t gotten over my need to be in the kitchen alone, though. The hubs stays clear, until it is breakfast time…then that is all him.

  3. Spaghetti and meatballs might just be my favorite meal of all time, and this version looks delicious. I love cooking with my husband, especially on those labor intensive dishes. He’s asked to cook coq au vin with me next week.

    The Lady and the Tramp picture is adorable!

  4. Thanks for choosing this month’s recipe. I think most agreed that the meatballs were great – the sauce not so great. Glad to be a part of the group. Love your blog.

  5. this is comfort food to the max, and man, does it look delicious! nothing says, “everything’s going to be a-okay,” like a nice bowl of homemade spaghetti and meatballs!

  6. I can’t wait to make this. I planned poorly and had just made Mark Bittman’s meatballs right before this one came up on BB, and didn’t want to overmeatball the fam. Hopefully this week! They look and sound fabulous. Oh, and I think that dancing in the kitchen is the key to a happy home. The only downside is that the iPod lives in danger of getting hit with bacon grease or wine spills, but it’s worth the risk, IMO.

  7. Great choice of recipe. Thanks. We just made this today and we loved it! Can’t beat meatballs and spaghetti for a good meal.

  8. I loved this recipe. And I agree, I made my meatballs pretty huge and still had more than 16. I was totally going to google that shot from Lady & the Tramp to include in my post but I got too lazy. ;) Yes, too lazy to google. How sad.

  9. oh, I love the Lady and the Tramp picture- this recipe looks so good, but intense! I’ve never worked with veal before, but I’ll have to give this a try- definitely a man-pleasin’ meal.

  10. Great recipe pick, this was fun to make. I don’t know why, but it didn’t even occur to me to pull out my meat grinder. Maybe next time.

    p.s. That video is hysterical.

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