Spaghetti and meatballs

January 9, 2008

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Serves 6

Author Lidia Bastianich suggests that if you do not use pork, soak the bread crumbs in milk for a couple of minutes before adding them to the meat mixture; this will help moisten the drier texture of beef. She writes that the combination of olive and vegetable oils gives you a higher smoking point for frying, but you'll still get the flavor of the olive oil.


2cans (35 ounces each) Italian plum tomatoes (preferably San Marzano), with their juice
1/4cup olive oil
1medium onion, chopped
1teaspoon crushed red peppers
2bay leaves
Salt and black pepper, to taste

1. Set a food mill fitted with the fine disk over a bowl. Work the tomatoes and their juices through it.

2. In a large flameproof casserole over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for 4 minutes. Pour in the tomatoes, red pepper, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes.


1/2pound ground pork
1/2pound ground beef
1cup fine, dry unseasoned bread crumbs
1cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4cup chopped Italian parsley
2cloves garlic, finely chopped
1teaspoon salt, and more to taste
1/4teaspoon pepper, and more to taste
Flour (for coating)
1/4cup olive oil
1/4cup vegetable oil
1pound spaghetti

1. In a large bowl, crumble the pork and beef. Sprinkle with bread crumbs, 1/3 cup grated Parmesan, the parsley, and garlic.

2. In a small bowl, beat the egg with the 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pour over the meat mixture. With your hands, work the meat until it is evenly blended. Shape the mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls.

3. Dredge the meatballs in flour until they are lightly coated.

4. In a large heavy-based skillet, heat the olive and vegetable oils. Notes: When the oil is hot, place as many meatballs in the pan as you can without crowding. Fry for about 6 minutes or until golden brown on all sides. Remove them from the pan and repeat with the remaining meatballs.

5. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.

6. Add the browned meatballs to the tomato sauce and cook, stirring gently, for 30 minutes or until they are cooked through.

7. Stir the spaghetti into the boiling water. Let the water return to a boil and cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes, or until the pasta is tender but still has some bite.

8. Drain the pasta and return the spaghetti to the pot. Add about 2 cups of the tomato sauce and toss gently. Remove from the heat and add the remaining 2/3 cup Parmesan cheese with salt and pepper, if you like.

9. Serve the pasta in warm bowls with a little more sauce spooned over the top. Pass the remaining sauce separately. Pass the meatballs family-style in a bowl or top the bowls of spaghetti with them. - Adapted from "Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen"


Watch a step-by-step cooking video of Anna Nappi of Nappi Meats & Groceries making meatballs.