So when we were in Italy a couple of weeks ago he asked me one night at dinner why none of the restaurants served this favorite “Italian” dish of his. I laughed and said because this “Italian” dish that we all know and love is not really “Italian”. Spaghetti & Meatballs is a true American creation by Italian immigrants who were making the best they could with the ingredients they could afford. I then told him if he wanted the best meatballs he would have to go to New York not Rome.
Spaghetti & Meatballs was also a favorite dish of my Granddad who grew up in upstate New York in the 1930’s. I can always remember him saying how much he loved Spaghetti & Meatballs. If any of my family is reading this do you know if there was a family recipe for Spaghetti & Meatballs that Granddad liked?
This recipe makes about 25-30 golf ball sized meatballs, which will feed a small army when served over a pound of spaghetti. But don’t worry these meatballs freeze well and are great sliced in half on a homemade pizza or served on a sub roll with extra marinara sauce and provolone cheese. Who doesn’t love a meatball sub sandwich? These meatballs also make a perfect party appetizer and can be kept warm in a crock pot covered with your favorite marinara sauce.
I hope y’all enjoy and let me know what you think! Also a BIG thanks to everyone for all the positive feedback!
Mel’s Spaghetti & Meatballs
3 Slices of Crusty Italian Bread, crusts removed
1 Cup of Milk
1lb Ground Beef (80/20)
1lb Ground Pork
1 Handful Flat Leaf Italian Parsley, chopped
3 Cloves of Garlic, grated
2 Teaspoons Onion Powder
1 Tablespoon sun-dried Tomato Spread (or Tomato Paste)
1 Cup Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, grated
1/2-3/4 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
Salt and Black Pepper to Taste
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
**1lb Package Spaghetti (I love the De Cecco brand)
Tear the Italian Bread into chunks then place it in a bowl with 1 cup of milk and set it aside. Soaking the bread ensures that you have a moist meatball.
In a large mixing bowl add the ground beef, ground pork, grated garlic, chopped parsley, the sun-dried tomato spread (or tomato paste), red pepper flakes, the grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and 2 Teaspoons of Salt and Black pepper to taste.
Squeeze all of the extra milk out of the bread and crumble the Italian Bread over the meat mixture.
With your hands lightly mix everything together. Don’t squeeze or compact the meat mixture or you will have a tough meatball.
With your hands, shape the meatballs to about the size of a golf ball. You should get about 25 to 30 meatballs at this size.
Heat up a large skillet (I like my cast iron skillet for this) over medium-high heat with 3 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
In a large soup pot, heat up 2 jars of your favorite store-bought marinara sauce or 4 cups of homemade marinara sauce. Put a lid on the sauce and reduce the heat to a simmer.
In two batches, place the meatballs in the hot cast iron skillet. Cook for 3 minutes or until the meatballs have a nice brown crust then turn them over and brown the other side. It’s important not to cram too many meatballs in to the pan or they will not brown properly.
When you have browned the meatballs on both sides place them in the pot with the simmering marinara sauce and cook for 30 minutes with the lid on.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the spaghetti to al-dente according to the package directions.
Toss the cooked spaghetti in an extra-large serving bowl with the meatballs and the marinara sauce then top it all off with some freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
Serve Family-Style with Caesar Salad and Garlic Bread.
** I like a good Italian brand of dried pasta like De Cecco. For me it has the best texture when cooked al-dente. De Cecco was also the most common brand of pasta I saw in all the food shops in Italy, and if this is what the Italians use you know it’s good! De Cecco is widely available at most supermarkets.