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family spaghetti and meatballs recipe


This is one of those recipes I’ve made so many times, I hardly measure anything anymore – so let’s hope the recipe below is accurate, ha! I was actually inspired to get this recipe up after reading Adam Rapoport’s intro to the October issue of Bon Appetit – dedicated to all things pasta.

He basically writes about how cooking pasta is less about a recipe and much more about experimenting, tasting and adjusting as you go. I couldn’t agree more as some of my favorite pasta dishes I’ve made were simply whipped up with what I already had on hand, likely to never be exactly recreated again. It makes me savor every bite and start imagining all the other possibilities…mmmmmm…pasta-bilities.

Alright, one more note about the recipe below – the sauce is based on a recipe my mom used to make with a few tweaks I’ve made over the years, and the meatball recipe is from Sir Dave’s Sicilian grandma Josephine (how great is that name?) – so it’s a bit of a family mash-up that I’m happy to finally be sharing with you all!

Cook Time: 3 1/2 hours
Servings: 6

1 lb ground beef
1 chopped sweet onion
2 minced garlic cloves
3 14.5 oz cans stewed tomatoes
1 28 oz can tomato sauce
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1 chopped green pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh cracked pepper

1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 lb ground veal*
2 eggs
3/4 cup minced onions
6 minced garlic cloves
3/4 cup italian bread crumbs
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp fresh cracked pepper
1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
*you can leave this out if you prefer, just up the beef + pork

1 box spaghetti noodles

And don’t forget the parmesan cheese for topping!

First start the sauce by adding the ground beef, chopped onion and garlic to a large sauce pot. Cook until the meat is browned. Drain if necessary. Then add the rest of the sauce ingredients, mix well, and set the heat to low to simmer.

Next, to make the meatballs – add all of the ingredients to a large bowl and mix well – yes your hands work best! Don’t overmix, just ensure all ingredients are well incorporated. Then, form these into pretty large meatballs, about 6-7 total. Just plop the meatballs into the sauce and let cook away for about 3 hours on a low simmer. I know most people brown the meatballs prior to adding to the sauce, but my mother-in-law told me I didn’t have to, so I don’t! 🙂

Stir the sauce several times an hour and taste and add seasoning as the sauce is simmering away. I’m known to add a smidge of white sugar, which Dave hates, but sometimes it does the trick in balancing out the acidity – judge for yourself. Also flip the meatballs around to ensure they’re getting evenly cooked.

Once the sauce tastes perfect, get a big pot of water boiling and cook the pasta until al dente, not a second longer! Serve with a heaping scoop or two of sauce and a big ole’ meatball. Top with parmesan and voila, it’s like you’re at my family table! Is there a recipe your family has handed down that is a staple at your house? Would love to hear from you guys!

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