Mama Mia’s Ultimate Meatballs and Spaghetti

Spaghetti and the Ultimate Meatball

Ingredients:

Meatballs:

  • 1 and 1/2 pounds ground pork
  • 3/4 pound ground sirloin
  • 3/4 pound ground veal
  • 1/2 french baguette, crust removed and torn into small pieces
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 2 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped plus more for sauce and garnish
  • 1 cup dried breadcrumbs
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, torn into small pieces (use the kind that comes packed in water)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Sauce:

  • 6 smallish tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 cup pasta water
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Pasta:

  • 1 pound of whole wheat pasta, or regular white pasta if you prefer

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Begin with the meatballs, soak the bread in the milk.  While bread is soaking, saute the onion, garlic and parsley in a bit of oil.  Let onions cool a bit.  In a large mixing bowl, add the meats, the onion mixture, the eggs, parmigiano cheese and the chopped basil.  Drain the milk from the bread and add the bread to the bowl.  With your hands, gently mix until thoroughly combined, but take care not to over mix.  If you handle the meat too much, the meatballs will be tough.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan.  Form the meat mixture into large balls and gently roll in a bowl of dried breadcrumbs.  Immediately plop each breaded meatball into the hot olive oil.  Brown the meatballs on two sides, turning gently with a large spoon.  If they stick to the pan, use a flat spatula to gently lift and turn.  This part is a bit tricky, but with the right tools, it can be done.  Use whatever works for you.  I used a combination of a metal spatula, a big spoon and some large tongs.

After meatballs have crisped up in the fry pan, remove to a 9 by 13 glass baking dish and set aside.

If the frying pan used for browning the meatballs isn’t too burned, use that oil and that pan to begin your sauce.  Otherwise, start with a fresh pan and 2 tablespoons olive oil.  I used the same pan I browned the meatballs in.

Add the tomatoes, garlic, basil and oregano and salt and pepper to taste.  Saute for about three minutes.  Pour sauce over the meatballs in the baking dish.  Tear the fresh mozzarella into small pieces and scatter over top the meatballs.  Sprinkle everything wit a generous grating of parmigiano-reggiano.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

While meatballs are baking, make the pasta according to the package directions.  Do not drain the pasta.

Remove the meatballs from the baking dish to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm.  Scrape all the tomato sauce from the baking dish into a saute pan.  You can use the same one you made the sauce in.  Add the beef stock, the pasta water and the tomato paste.  Heat, stirring until sauce comes together.

Remove pasta from pasta water with tongs and add directly to the pan with the sauce in it.  Toss pasta in sauce to coat completely.  Move pasta and sauce to a large bowl or platter and add meatballs on top.  Add grated parmigiano-reggiano and a sprig of fresh basil and serve.

I hope you enjoy this dish as much as my guests did!

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