I think I found my “go to” spaghetti and meatball recipe. I really love a good red sauce that tastes like it could be authentically Italian. I know taste is a matter of opinion, but I think this sauce had the perfect mix of flavors for me. I also love meatballs a little more than the average person probably should, and these were fantastic meatballs. I think the method of soaking the bread in milk made a difference (see instructions below.)
The recipe came from the Jan. 09 issue of Gourmet. It’s their cover recipe, actually, titled Spaghetti and Meatballs. I halved the recipe because I wanted to freeze leftovers, but not THAT many leftovers. The recipe here is listed “as is,” not halved.
Spaghetti and Meatballs (recipe from Gourmet, Jan 09)
Drain tomatoes, reserving juice in a large bowl. Crush tomatoes with your hands and add to juice. *I thought this would be a pain in the butt, but it was actually really fun.
Cook onions in oil in pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes with their juice, 4 tsp salt, and 1 tsp pepper. Simmer sauce, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Season with salt. *I did not add any more salt.
MAKE MEATBALLS WHILE SAUCE SIMMERS:
Cook onions in extra-virgin olive oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl to cool.
Soak bread in milk in another bowl until soft, about 5 minutes. Firmly squeeze bread to remove excess milk, discarding milk.
Stir together cooled onion mixture, bread, eggs, parmesan, parsley, oregano, lemon zest, 5 1/2 tsp salt, and 1 1/2 tsp pepper until combined. Add meats to bread mixture, gently mixing with your hands until just combined (do not overmix).
Form meat mixture into about 70 (1 1/2-inch) balls with dampened hands, arranging meatballs on 2 large baking sheets or in shallow baking pans.
Heat olive or vegetable oil (1 cup) in a 12-inch heavy skillet (preferably nonstick) over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown meatballs in 4 or 5 batches (without crowding), turning frequently, about 5 minutes per batch. Return to baking sheets.<
Add meatballs to sauce and gently simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes. (If pot is not large enough, divide meatballs and sauce between 2 pots.)
My sauce simmering away on the stove:
Cook spaghetti in 2 batches in pasta insert in boiling salted water (3 Tbsp salt for 6 qt water *I did not add this much salt) until just al dente, draining and tossing each batch with some of sauce in a large serving dish.
Serve with meatballs, remaining sauce, and grated cheese.
RECIPE BY MAGGIE RUGGIERO
I served the spaghetti and meatballs with a red leaf lettuce salad with homemade croutons (had to make use of the leftover day old Italian bread!) We had blue cheese dressing because it’s my husband’s favorite… so I cheated and used store bought. 🙂
I also made the Garlic Knots from “Amber’s Delectable Delights.” Thanks for posting, Amber! They were a huge hit. Here is the recipe with my modifications in italics. The source that Amber got the recipe from is listed too. Please visit her blog for some awesome pictures of how to tie the dough into knots!
Soft Garlic Knots
Source: I Heart Food for Thought adapted from King Arthur Flour
3 cups bread flour
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup + 2 tablespoons lukewarm water
2-4 cloves peeled, garlic
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 teaspoon Pizza Seasoning or Italian seasoning, optional *I omitted.
1. For the dough – In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the dry ingredients together then add the olive oil, milk and water *I heated the milk and water a bit together on the stove. Using the paddle attachment or dough hook, mix and knead to form smooth, elastic dough, adding additional water or flour as needed. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover it, and allow it to rise for about 1 hour, until it’s doubled in bulk. *I mixed and kneaded by hand.
2. Divide the dough into 8 pieces *For some reason, I got 11! I guess I don’t divide evenly well 🙂, and roll each into a rope about 10 inches long; tie each rope into a knot. Place the knots on a lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheet, cover, and let rise for 45 minutes to about an hour, until very puffy looking.
3. To make glaze – Unpeel garlic cloves. Chop the garlic in a food processor (or you can use a garlic press), with the melted butter.
4. To bake – Bake the knots in a preheated 350°F oven for 15 to 18 minutes *I let mine go for about 23 minutes because some of them were big. They were also kind of baking together because I used a small pan. They should be set, but only very lightly browned. Remove the knots from the oven, and brush or drizzle them with the seasoned butter. (You can reheat the butter briefly in the microwave, if it’s solidified).