When one thinks of Italian food, spaghetti and meatballs comes to mind. It’s a great go-to recipe when you have a crowd or a pot luck dinner. It can be made in advance, it’s easy to reheat, and everybody loves it from the youngest to the oldest member in the family. If you are vegetarian or want a lighter meal you can skip the meatballs and only have the sauce. It is simple, fast and I tend to make a big batch so I can freeze it or reheat it later in the week. Make sure you use San Marzano tomatoes as the taste will make all the difference!
FOR THE SAUCE:
- 2 – 28oz crushed tomatoes
- 1- 28oz whole tomatoes coarsely chopped or cut in the pot with kitchen scissors
- 3 onions diceds
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 tablespoon italian seasonings or one teaspoon each of dried basil, thyme and oregano
- salt and pepper
Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large stockpot or dutch oven. Add onions and sautée until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, stir and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, stir and add the wine and seasonings. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes if you opt not to make meatballs. If you do, simmer the sauce while making the meatballs and don’t worry about timing.
FOR THE MEATBALLS (makes about 30 -2 inches meatballs)
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/2 lb ground pork
- 3/4 lb ground veal
- 3/4 cup dried breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup of milk
- 1 onion minced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1/2 cup parsley minced
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- 1 cup fresh grated parmesan
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup flour
In a small bowl mix the breadcrumbs and milk and let sit for 10 minutes while mincing onion, garlic and parsley.
In a large bowl mix meats, breadcrumb/milk mixture, onion, garlic, parsley, parmesan and egg making sure all the ingredients are evenly distributed without over mixing. Season with salt and pepper.
Put the flour in a shallow plate. Shape the meat mixture into 2 inches round balls. Roll each balls in the flour to get them covered slightly and place in a baking dish. You should roughly end up with 30 meatballs. When done, heat 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan and brown the meatballs. Depending on the size of your pan you might have to do this in 2 to 3 batches. You don’t want to cook the meatballs, only browned them. As they get ready slowly put them in the simmering sauce. When all done, continue to simmer for another 30 to 45 minutes to finish cooking the meatballs.
Right before serving you can chop 1/4 cup of fresh basil and stir into the sauce. Serve with fresh pasta: thick spaghetti, bucatin or fettuccine and lots of grated parmesan, nice crusty bread and a bottle of red wine.
NOTE: as this recipe makes a lot, you can freeze some of the leftovers for later or crush the meatballs in the sauce and use it as a base for a meat lasagna.
From my kitchen to yours,
CK, la fille du boucher