OUR FAVORITE SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS
If you are among those who find a great satisfaction in cooking and eating spaghetti and meatballs, then you are going to love this super tender and strong meat mixture, slow-simmered and flavor sauce and tons of cheese.
YIELD Serves 6
ACTIVE TIME 1 hour 45 minutes
TOTAL TIME 3 hours 15 minutes
For the tomato sauce:
1/2 cup olive oil
12 garlic cloves, peeled
4 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 dried bay leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teapoon freshly ground pepper
2/3 cup (packed) basil leaves
For the meatballs:
1 cup roughly torn day-old Italian bread
1 cup whole milk
8 ounces ground beef
8 ounces ground veal
3 large eggs, beaten to blend
8 ounces ground pork
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/4 cups grated Parmesan, divided
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more
3/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound spaghetti
Make the tomato sauce:
Add oil and garlic in a large, wide pot and cook it over medium-low heat. Stir it occasionally for 8-10 minutes until garlic is golden brown on all sides (reduce the heat if you notice that it burns).
Cut the tomatoes into smaller slices using a paring knife or kitchen shears.
Once the garlic is ready, add red pepper flakes, cook and stir occasionally for about half an hour (until toasted and fragrant).
Add tomatoes, bay leaves, salt, oregano, and pepper. Stir, then break up tomatoes to combine well.
Increase heat slightly, simmer and stir occasionally for about 2-3 hours until sauce thickened and flavors have concentrated.
Make the meatballs:
Add the bread and the milk in a medium bowl, and allow the bread to moisten well, for about 5 minutes. Remove the excess milk by squeezing the bread. Tear bread into smaller pieces and return to the medium bowl.
Mix veal, pork, beef, eggs, garlic, 1/2 cup parsley,1 cup Parmesan 1 tsp. salt, oregano, pepper, fennel, and red pepper flakes in a large bowl and then gently mix in bread with your hands until all the ingredients are evenly distributed (make sure you don’t overmix).
Add cool water in a small bowl. Moisten your hands and roll the meat mixture between your palms and then place the golf-ball-sized balls (24) on a rimmed baking sheet. Chill until sauce is ready.
Finish the sauce and cook the pasta end meatballs:
Pluck out bay leaves and put basil. Use an immersion blender, puree until a little chunky but not smooth. Add 1 ½ cups sauce and keep the remaining sauce in pot warm over very low heat.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add meatballs to skillet (without crowding), cook them for a couple of minutes and turn them to brown on all sides. Once they are brown on the outside but not done on the inside, remove them.
When all meatballs are browned, add them in a pot and pour the tomato sauce. Increase the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until meatballs are cooked well, about 10-15 minutes.
In the meantime, boil water in a large pot, add some salt, and cook spaghetti. Stir occasionally, until al dente. Drain and reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking liquid and return pasta to pot over medium-low heat. Add ¼ cup pasta cooking liquid at a time, as needed to loosen sauce and coat pasta.
Top the pasta with meatballs and remaining sauce. Sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup parmesan and ¼ cup of parsley.
You can make, cool and refrigerate the sauce for up to 5 days, or frozen it for up to 3 months. You can shape the meatballs and refrigerate them 1 day in advance. Or you can cook meatballs in sauce, cool and refrigerate them for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months.