Did you know that Spaghetti and Meatballs isn’t an Italian dish? At least not in the way we think of Spaghetti and Meatballs. You know, big, juicy meatballs swimming in a rich red sauce poured over a mountain of spaghetti noodles. In Italy, you will find spaghetti noodles, tomato based sauces and even meatballs of sorts (called polpettes). These are not the meatballs we know and love. They are often eaten plain (as the meatballs alone) or in a soup. The meat is anything from beef to turkey to even fish. Often these meatballs are no bigger than a golf ball. In some regions, there are meatballs no bigger than a marble called polpettines. While polpettes are commonly found at the family table in Italy, they are rarely found in restaurants and never served with spaghetti. If you happen to be in Italy and find “Spaghetti and Meatballs” on the menu, then you have stumbled into a tourist spot that caters to American expectation.
Whenever I do think of Spaghetti, I cannot help but to be reminded of the best April Fools prank ever. On April 1, 1957 the BBC aired a documentary about the Spaghetti Tree Harvest. The documentary was complete with footage of the event. People were so fascinated by the idea of harvesting their own spaghetti that the BBC was flooded with calls asking where Spaghetti Trees could be bought. I guess TV back then is like the internet now. If it’s on TV it must be true. I hear people saying the most outrageous things, and they believe it because “it’s on the internet”. But then, that’s a rant for another day . . .
Lately I’ve been craving Spaghetti and Meatball Sandwiches. Since these yummy sandwiches are made from leftover Spaghetti and Meatballs; first I had to make the Spaghetti in order to have the leftovers. Can’t very well put the cart before the horse, so I’ve made a big bowl of Spaghetti with plenty of yummy meatballs to enjoy now and more again later in a sandwich. Whenever I make this dish, Hubby always asks the same question “When will the guests arrive?” Silly man, he knows we’ll be eating sandwiches later.
I know most people fry up their meatballs before placing them into the sauce. I’ve even seen some recipes that call for uncooked meatballs to go straight into the sauce, although I’ve never tried that – seems the balls would fall apart. I like to bake my meatballs for two reasons – I can fit more balls on a baking sheet than I can in a skillet (the more meatballs cooked at once, the less time it takes since you aren’t cooking in batches), and baked is healthier than fried.
Whenever I make Spaghetti with Meatballs; I like to make a big batch – a pound of noodles with two and a half pounds of meatballs. Yeah, that’s a lot. You can feed a crowd or have plenty of leftovers for those yummy sandwiches and then some. It really doesn’t take anymore time to make a big batch as it does to make a small batch (except maybe forming the balls themselves) so why not go for it?
My sauce starts with a jar of commercial sauce and from there I create a sauce that is almost as yummy as sauce made from scratch using home-grown tomatoes. Of all the brands out there, I prefer Bertolli Organic sauce as a base. If you have your own home-made sauce, by all means do.
Spaghetti with Meatballs
Ingredients – Meat Balls
1 1/2 lb Lean Ground Beef
1 Lb Mild Italian Sausage, mild or hot
1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
2 Tablespoons Roasted Garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 Slices of crusty bread, broken into small pieces
1-3 Tablespoons Milk
Preheat oven to 350-degrees
In a small bowl, place crusty bread, torn into small pieces. Add enough milk to moisten bread.
In a large bowl, combine ground beef, Italian sausage and roasted garlic. Season with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.
Add bread mixture to meat mixture. Kneed to blend well.
Form the meat mixture into desired meatballs of approximately the same size. Place balls on a rimmed baking sheet. When all the meat balls have been formed, place into the oven and bake, shaking pan occasionally for even browning, until cooked through.
Small balls cook in 10-15 minutes; large balls cook in 15-20 minutes.
While meatballs bake, make the sauce.
Ingredients – Pasta Sauce
1 Tablespoon Butter
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
2-3 Garlic Cloves, chopped
¼ Cup Onions, finely Chopped
¼ Cup Carrots, finely chopped
1 Can (14.5) Oz Italian-Style Tomatoes, Crushed
1 Jars Basic Spaghetti Sauce
½ Cup Red Wine
Chop garlic, onions and carrots. Set aside until ready to use.
In saucepan, melt butter with olive oil over medium heat. Sauté carrots and onions until tender, 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, sauté without allowing garlic to color, 1-2 minutes.
Add the crushed tomatoes and spaghetti sauce. To the now empty jar of sauce, add the red wine. Swirl jar around and pour into the saucepan. Stir to blend. Bring to a full boil, lower heat to simmer.
When meatballs are cooked through, add to sauce. Let simmer about 30 minutes for flavors to merge and marry. If sauce appears too dry, add a splash or two of red wine to maintain consistency.
While sauce simmers, bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil.
Ingredients – Pasta
1 lb Spaghetti or other long, round noodle
Place 1 lb Spaghetti noodles in boiling water, stirring occasionally to promote “dancing” of pasta. Cook al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain well.
Place pasta in a large, warm serving bowl. Pour meat balls and sauce over top, toss well to mix and serve immediately.
This is great with warm, crusty Italian bread and a simple salad
Spero vi piaccia questo delizioso piatto!