Spaghetti and Meatballs
This is one of the first dishes I ever learned how to make really well. I knew I had made it well because it was the first dish that my mom had asked ME for the recipe, instead of the other way around. Soaking a slice of milk in bread and adding it to the meat helps keep the meatball from drying out after it's been braising in the sauce. Personally, I love when my tomato sauce is spicy, hence the addition of the green chilies, but if you like less heat, you can add red chili flakes, or leave out the chilies all together. Although it's super simple to make, this meal is very impressive. Get ready to be complimented on your excellent cooking skills after serving this one.
Makes 4 servings
Ingredients: FOR THE MEATBALLS 300 grams/0.7 lbs ground beef (I used lean) 1 slice of bread, crust removed (I used rye) 3 tbs milk 1 tbs + 1 tsp olive oil 1/2 an onion, minced 1 clove of garlic, minced
1 egg 1 tsp salt 1 tsp black pepper 1/4 cup soft breadcrumbs FOR THE SAUCE 1/2 an onion, minced 2 cloves of garlic, minced 2 green chilies or 1 tbs red chili flakes (optional, adjustable to your spice level) 1 tbs tomato paste (optional) 1 large can of crushed tomatoes (about 800 ml) 1 tsp sugar 1 tsp garlic powder 1 tsp onion powder 1 tsp dried oregano 1 tsp dried basil
1 bay leaf 2 tsp salt 1 tsp black pepper FOR THE PASTA 8 oz / 224 grams uncooked spaghetti or linguine (or enough for 4) Water 1/2 tsp olive oil 1 tbs salt
FOR THE TOPPING 1 tsp olive oil 1/4 cup soft breadcrumbs
Directions: 1. Place the slice of bread in a bowl, and pour milk over top. Cutting the bread into small squares makes this easier. Let it soak for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, squeeze out the excess milk over the sink using your hands. Set aside. 2. In a large, deep pan, heat 1 tsp of olive oil over medium low heat. Add 1/2 a minced onion and 1 clove minced garlic. Let it sweat out and brown for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool slightly.
3. In a medium sized mixing bowl, add the ground beef, milk soaked bread, cooled onion garlic mixture, egg, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly using your hands, crushing the soaked bread so that it is not in visible chunks. This will take about 2-3 minutes of thorough mixing. The mixture will be quite wet. Add 1/4 cup of soft breadcrumbs and mix again until fully combined. 4. In the same pan used to cook the onions and garlic, heat 1 tbs of olive oil over medium to medium low heat. Form the ground beef mixture into 19-20 small meatballs. I used a tablespoon to help make them all the same shape and size. Drop the meatballs into the hot oil and let them sear for approximately 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. You do not need to cook them all the way through here as they will continue cooking in the sauce - just brown them. Once they have browned, remove the meatballs from the pan, but leave the grease. 5. Add the remaining 1/2 an onion and 2 minced garlic cloves to the hot grease along with the green chilies or chili flakes if using. Sauté on medium low heat for 7 minutes until soft, then add the tomato paste if using. Sauté for 1 more minute then add the crushed tomatoes and remainder of the ingredients for the sauce. Stir to combine everything and turn the heat down to low. Add the meatballs back into the sauce, submerging them completely if you can. Cover the lid and let the meatballs stew for a minimum of 20 minutes. You can let them stew for up to 1 hour if you have the time. 6. When the meatballs have 10-15 minutes left, start the pasta. Bring a pot full of water up to a boil. Add 1 tbs of salt and 1 tsp of olive oil. Turn the heat down to medium and add the pasta. If using spaghetti, cook for 7 minutes. If using linguine, cook for 8-9 minutes. Strain and set aside. 7. In a small pan, heat 1 tsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup of soft breadcrumbs. Stir constantly for 60-90 seconds, or until golden and crunchy, and remove from heat immediately. 8. To serve, divide the pasta onto 4 plates. Top each with sauce and 4-5 meatballs, and divide the breadcrumb topping evenly between the 4 plates. Top with parmesan if desired. Store any remaining meatballs in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.