Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and Meatballs (adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

3 slices white sandwich bread (without crusts) torn into tiny pieces
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork 
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg yolk
1 clove garlic, minced/pressed
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 tsp pepper
oil for pan-frying 

8 oz pasta (spaghetti, fettuccine, angel hair, etc)
2 Tb olive oil
1/2 small yellow or white onion, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced/pressed
1 can crushed tomatoes (or 2 cups fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and crushed)
1-2 Tb minced fresh basil
1/2-1 tsp dried oregano
a pinch of sugar
a pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
salt and pepper
grated Parmesan cheese

Meatballs first! Combine the bread and buttermilk in a bowl, then mash them together until they form a smooth-ish paste.

Combine all meatball ingredients, including bread mixture, in a medium bowl. Mix well, then form into small meatballs, about 1 1/2 inches across, or about 2-3 Tb each. Form them gently, if you press them together too much they will become dense. These will be soft meatballs. Place them on a place while you heat your oil in a large pan (or Dutch oven!) You want enough that the meatballs are about half covered, not submerged or floating. Heat the oil to about 260-275 degrees. (If you don't have a thermometer, you want the meatballs to sizzle when placed in the oil, but not immediately start browning)

When edge of meatball dipped in oil sizzles, add the meatballs in single layer. Fry your meatballs, turning when the bottoms are browned (be gentle when pulling them up, sometimes they stick to the bottom) Place browned meatballs on a paper towel--lined plate; set aside. Repeat until all meatballs are fried.

Time for the sauce!  Heat the olive oil in a large pan. (You can also use the pan you fried in, just discard the oil and leave the little browned bits in. Scrape them up while the oil heats, they add flavor!) Add onions, and cook on medium heat until onions are softened and translucent. Add garlic and cook till garlic is golden, about 30 seconds-1 minute. Add tomatoes, sugar, basil, oregano, and re pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. (Start water boiling for your pasta, and add about 1/2 tsp of salt to the water. Add the pasta whenever the water boils) 

Simmer your sauce gently until it thickens, about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. (I find I generally need very little salt.) Put your meatballs in the sauce, and make sure they're covered. Stir them in a few times. When your pasta is just barely almost done, drain it and add to the sauce and meatballs. Stir/toss together until the pasta is evenly coated. Serve with parmesan cheese!
Comments