Favorite meatballs with spaghetti

February 1st, 2010

Favorite meatball sitting squat and beautiful by lkwm on dRc

I made these meatballs just for you. Really, I did. They are one of my go to comfort foods in the dead of winter, which we’ve been experiencing around here in Virginia this week, and I really wanted to share them with you.  I discovered this recipe rather haphazardly in a Williams-Sonoma magazine a few years ago, and I dare say these are the best meatballs I’ve eaten, whether by my own hand, or at a restaurant.  Now I can’t speak for the future, since I believe it is a terrible shame to ever close one’s mind to change and improvement – or in this case – new and future recipes, but what I can tell you is:  these meatballs are GOOD.

Garlic and parsley by lkwm on dRc

They may not be neat. Or pretty. They are not fancy, or uber-organic lowfat - though you could make them quite organic, if you chose. But they are good.

Beaten egg by lkwm on dRc

I make them for company. I make them for B. I make them for me. I just make them. Sometimes I get a meatball craving and nothing else will satisfy – not bolognese, not lasagna, not marina – just meatballs. And spaghetti.

Home made bread crumbs by lkwm on dRcBreadcrumbs in measure by lkwm on dRc

I like to make my own bread crumbs – so simple really, but not strictly necessary. If you decide to give it a whirl, all you have to do is grab some bread on hand, any bread, and give it a buzz in a food processor or mini chopper. But I started making these with regular plain store bought bread crumbs long before I picked up many of my current fancy tips and habits, and I have nothing but feelings of warm nostalgia towards those lovelies.

Chopped parsley by lkwm on dRc

I haven’t told you much about my little boy, J. He is wonderful – a love story that caught me off guard and delights me each day. He loves to watch mommy cook, and chop. He wishes he could hold the knife. We got him a play kitchen for Christmas, complete with adorable petite wooden pots and pans, but he still prefers our huge and heavy stainless steel. clang. Clang. CLANG. love.

Meatball ingredients in bowl by lkwm on dRcBreadcrumbs on board by lkwm on dRc

I did not eat meatballs as a child. My beloved mother, ever conscience of her family’s fat intake, was not likely to whip up weekday meals with any kind of ground beef pork mixture involved. And it was the 90s, when lowfat was the current low carb. But I am a bit less particular, as is she, these days. Now it’s about balance and moderation.

Placing cheese into meatball by lkwm on dRcSealing cheese into meatball by lkwm on dRcPerfect little meatball by lkwm on dRcMeatballs sitting pretty by lkwm on dRc

Did I mention that these are stuffed? Guess not. That’s because I only recently started doing this, even though the recipe has always called for it. I always thought, oh fuss – extra work. But once I tried it, it really is hardly any extra work at all, and it makes for quite an impressive meatball – if you decide to have company over, or just want to wow your sweetheart.

Meatballs browning in olive oil by lkwm on dRcSizzling meatballs by lkwm on dRc

There is something so soothing about a good spaghetti and meatballs. I hope you try these, and that they warm you and those you love from the inside out.

Favorite meatballs in sauce by lkwm on dRcMeatball up close by lkwm on dRcCheesy meatball by lkwm on dRc

Favorite meatballs with spaghetti
adapted from Williams-Sonoma
serves 10-12, may be reduced in increments of 1/3

1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh bread crumbs (I have used both fresh and plain store bought bread crumbs successfully)
1 lb each ground pork, veal and beef (this is often labeled as “meatloaf mixture” at the store – I often use 2/3 beef, 1/3 pork)
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 3/4 tsp. kosher or sea salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/3 lb. mozzarella, provolone, or fontina cheese cut into 1/2″ cubes (optional)
About 6 cups tomato sauce (I promise a post on a home made sauce recipe in the future, till then, I have tried and recommend this one, or use 2-3 jars of your favorite store brand)
2 lb spaghetti, cooked al dente and drained
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving

In a large bowl, combine milk and bread crumbs. Add meats, 1/3 cup parsley, eggs, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix briefly with hands. Form into 2″ balls. If using cheese, seal a cube into center of each ball. In a large skillet (biggest you have) set on medium high heat, heat 1/2″ (I use about 1/4″) oil until shimmering and almost smoking. Brown meatballs 1 minute per side (I end up doing about three turns) taking care not to crowd the meatballs in the pan. If you are making the full recipe, you will need either two pans or to do this in two rotations.  Transfer to paper towel-lined tray.

Discard oil in pan. Pour tomato sauce into pan; bring to simmer over medium-high heat. Add meatballs, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until cooked through, 25-30 minutes (recipe says 30, but often mine are done after 20 minutes and they are best not overcooked, so slip a knife into one early and check for doneness). Uncover; cook 10 minutes more (again, I sometimes cut this back to about 5 minutes once meatballs are cooked through). Serve over pasta with cheese and extra chopped parsley.

Note: Since this makes such a large amount, I often reduce the recipe by 2/3 which ends up yielding about 8 meatballs. Other times I reduce it by 1/3 or make the full amount and freeze a portion of the meatballs after they are fried in the oil, but before simmering in the sauce.  They cook and reheat beautifully right out of the freezer when placed in sauce and finished according to the recipe (increase cooking time and check for doneness).

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Posted in Main Courses - Meat | 18 Comments »

18 Responses to “Favorite meatballs with spaghetti”

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  1. Amy McPherson says:

    Oh, my, my, my! I just had meatballs yesterday at Ikea, and I’m sure they weren’t anywhere as good! Stuffed with cheese?! You have come a long way since our college days! (But really, of course, our “college days” weren’t so long ago, right?) Do you think this recipe would be good with beef, too?

    • drcadmin says:

      Amy – I think we made some pretty spectacular things in those days – I’ll never forget your home made pasta! The meatball recipe actually calls for a mixture of equal parts ground beef, veal, and pork, but our store does not often carry this mixture, so I use 2/3 ground beef, 1/3 pork – which adds a lot of flavor. If you were to use just beef, I would not go with a super low fat variety as the meatballs might come out tough and dry. I see how it read this way – I went back and tried to clarify in the post. Thanks. (:

  2. Kristy says:

    I love the pictures Laura. Those look very good, I will have to try to make these:)

    • drcadmin says:

      Kristy – thank you! They are pretty simple to put together – let me know how they turn out if you are able to give them a go.

  3. Mom says:

    Dear La, you have brought tears to my eyes, as you often do and have always done. You are my love story and have been since the moment I laid eyes on you! The meatballs look wonderful, and John and I will surely try them this way. It has been a long time since I’ve fixed them and I’m ashamed to say that they are one of his favorite dishes (and mine), so I will make them for my sweetheart as well as myself. I believe you are right; moderation is the best policy. According to your greatgrandfather, Poppy, the key to his well-lived, healthy, ninety-five years was “everything in moderation”. And, I can’t help it; you and D. and B. and J. and J. are the most precious things in life to me!

  4. Liz says:

    Those sound superb! I love the idea of a little surprise of cheese in the middle. Fantastic. One day I will have to write about meatballs with a whole hard-boiled egg inside. Everyone makes a face when they hear about it, but they’re extremely delicious.

    • drcadmin says:

      Liz – Hi! Very interesting. I love a fried egg on just about anything, so I can imagine that a meatball with a hardboiled egg nested all warm inside could be quite delicious – I will definitely have to check out that post. (:

  5. The Teacher Cooks says:

    I do love meatballs and pasta. These look incredible!

  6. Sommer says:

    Your meatballs look delish! I’m going to have to give them a try. As always–beautiful photos!

    • drcadmin says:

      Sommer – Hi Roomie! You know when I fell for meatballs? It was at the little Italian joint across the street from campus during college…which you introduced me to! Let me know how they turn out if you give them a try.

  7. My goodness, your pictures are worth a thousand words, but also with you, your words are worth a thousand pictures. We enjoy your presentation very much…. now get yourself down here and do some cooking.. Naw, just kidding, you come we cook.

    Love Bob & Bettye

    • laura says:

      Bob & Bettye – well hi there, ya’ll! Glad to hear from you! I’m having a great time learning my camera and I owe you both much more than a few meals! I could cook for ya, but why should I, when Bettye can serve me up some real Southern fare? Thanks you two!

  8. Catherine says:

    Hi, Laura, I wanted to let you know that I fixed the Farfalle pasta recipe, and it was, as some people put it, “to die for”! In fact, we have enough left over for the two of us to have it again tonight, so my husband said he will be looking forward to it again all day today. I also made the meatballs, and they were,(how should I say it), meatballs, but not just any meatballs. Speaking for my husband again, (J. says), in his words, “They are the best meatballs I’ve ever had!”. Thanks for all the wonderful recipes, and also the lovely pictures. The pancakes look scrumptious, too!

    P.S. To all the other commenters; these recipes are very easy to make, but top notch. I would serve these to the Queen of England if she’d come to my house for dinner! (I’ll bet she’d like the Brit/Indi one the best, though!)

  9. Cherine says:

    These look awesome. I will definitely try them soon :)

  10. These would make my husband a very happy man. :)

    • laura says:

      Catherine – I’m so happy to get feedback and know you are having success with the recipes!
      Cherine – Thanks – let me know how they turn out!
      Patricia – sometimes it’s the simple things that make them the happiest, eh? Thanks for visiting dRc!

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