After an attempt at meatballs last week which left me with contaminated sauce and having to order in, I decided to try it again until I got it right.
The result was pretty amazing if I must say so myself.
3 35 oz cans whole Italian tomatoes with their juices
3 Tbsp olive oil
5 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
pinch of sugar (if needed)
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 lb ground veal
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup grated parmigiano or romano (I actually used Pecorino)
1 1/2 cups plain breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 lb dried spaghetti
Empty can of tomatoes with their juices into a food processor, pulse until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and repeat with remaining tomatoes. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion, cook until softened about 5 to 10 minutes. Then add the garlic and cooked for another 5-10 minutes. Stir in the red pepper flakes and let them heat up for 15 seconds to release their flavor, and then pour in the tomatoes with their juices. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, and then reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Add some basil and 1 Tbsp salt and simmer until sauce is full flavored and has reduced to a thick, saucy consistency (20 to 40 minutes). Taste and add a pinch of sugar only if the sauce lacks the natural sweetness of perfectly ripe, fresh tomatoes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Break up the ground meat in a large bowl. Sprinkle on the garlic, eggs, grated cheese, breadcrumbs, parsley, 1 1/2 cups water, 1 tbsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Mix with your hands until everything is nicely distributed, do not overmix. Shape into 12 meatballs (about 2.5" diamter). Heat a few tbsp's of olive oil in a 10 inch skillet over medium heat and add 6 meatballs at a time. Brown them on all sides. Be sure not to let them burn. Dry them on paper towels and put them in the oven for 8-10 minutes until fully cooked. When the marinara has finished its initial simmer, add the meatballs and cover and pot for 30 minutes. This allows the sauce to permeate the meatballs.
Spaghetti (I used whole wheat):
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti until al dente (about 8-10 minutes). Drain it and add a couple ladelfuls of the marinara sauce to the pasta. Toss until mixed. Transfer to serving bowls and ladle more sauce over the spaghetti along with 2 to 3 meatballs. Serve with grated cheese.
***To make this easier on yourself, used store-bought marinara and just make the meatballs.
Adapted from Real Italian 2010