Updated: Mar 23, 2022
This meatball recipe gives you a beautiful, light meatball in a nice, simple red sauce. Over spaghetti with a dusting of parmesan cheese, it will be your go-to Sunday sauce recipe for ever more!
Difficulty: Beginner Preparation Time: 20min
Yields: 4-6 Servings Total Time: 1hr
FOR THE MEATBALLS
½ lb ground beef, 80/20 mix
½ lb ground pork
½ lb ground veal
3 pieces white bread, crust removed, cut into ½ inch pieces
1/3 cup milk
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/3 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 cup freshly grated parmesan reggiano, divided
freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE RED SAUCE
½ large onion, ¼ “ dice
pinch red pepper flakes
2 tsp sugar
28 oz can crushed tomato
FOR THE SPAGHETTI
1 pound spaghetti
FOR THE MEATBALLS
In a small mixing bowl combine the bread cubes and the milk and mash with a fork until
the bread and milk have combined to make a loose paste. In a medium sized mixing
bowl combine the eggs, garlic, ½ cup of the cheese, bread-milk mixture, parsley, a
couple of pinches of salt and a couple of grinds of black pepper. Whisk to combine
thoroughly. Add the beef, veal and the pork to the egg mixture and using both of your
hands, combine all of the ingredients until just combined. Be sure not to over mix as this
will create a tough meatball.
We are now going to check our meatball mixture for correct seasoning, but as we
don’t want to eat raw meat and eggs we are going to fry up a test patty to check our
Place a small fry pan over a medium heat and add just enough oil to coat the bottom
of the pan. Form a small meat patty (about 1” around by 1/4” thick) from the meatball
mixture and place it in the pan once the oil starts to shimmer. Cook until golden brown
on one side, about 2 minutes, then flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes, until patty is
done. Let patty cool and taste. Adjust seasoning in meatball mixture if needed with salt
Now that we’re satisfied with the seasoning of our meatball mixture, we will form the
meatballs. I like to use just enough meatball mixture to make a meatball about 2” in
diameter. This recipe should make about 10-12 meatballs this size. Place the formed
meatballs on a large plate. Place a large, 10-12” nonstick fry pan over a medium heat
and add about a ¼” of oil to the pan. Once the oil has started to shimmer add the
meatballs to the pan and cook until golden brown on one side, about 2-3 minutes. Using
a spatula or a pair of tongs, carefully flip the meatballs over and cook for another 2-3
minutes or until the meatballs are golden brown.
The interesting thing here is that the meatballs will flatten out slightly and become sort
of oval. This is ok! The only way to achieve a perfectly round, cooked meatball is to
deep-fry them. I prefer the pan method and it is much easier to control the cooking of the
meatball at home this way! Place the meatballs on a platter. The meatballs will not be
cooked through at this point, but we will finish them in our easy red sauce.
FOR THE RED SAUCE AND THE SPAGHETTI
Place a large pot filled with 4-6 quarts of heavily salted water (about 3 tablespoons of
salt) over a high heat and bring to a boil.
Getting back to the meatballs, pour off all of the fat from the pan that the meatballs
were cooked in, reserving 1 tablespoon of the oil. There will be some cooked bits of the
meatballs on the bottom of the pan…SAVE THESE IN THE PAN! These golden bits of
goodness (otherwise know as fond or sucs) will add tremendous flavor to the sauce we
are making. Place the fry pan over a medium heat and add the reserved tablespoon of
the fat to the pan. Once the oil is hot, add the diced onions and a pinch or two or three, if
desired (a little goes a long way), of the red pepper flakes as well as a pinch of salt and
a few grinds of black pepper.
Sweat the onions in the oil, scraping up the bits of cooked meatball using a wooden
spoon or rubber spatula. Cook the onions until they have become translucent and
softened slightly, about 5-7 minutes. Add the crushed tomato, sugar and bay leaf, stir
to combine. Heat the sauce and cook for about ten minutes. Do not let the sauce boil.
If needed lower the heat to keep it at a simmer. At this point, return the meatballs to the
pan with the sauce in it and cook, covered, with the lid slightly ajar until the meatballs are
cooked through, about 10-15 minutes longer.
Drop the pasta into the pot of boiling water about the time that you return the meatballs
to the sauce. Stir the pasta to occasionally to prevent sticking. Cook as per the
manufacturers recommended times for al-dente. This is usually about nine minutes.
Drain the cooked pasta in a colander in the sink. Resist the urge the rinse the pasta…we
don’t want to wash off all of that wonderful starch on the pasta!
Serve your spaghetti and meatballs by plating a tong full of the pasta in a bowl, topped
with a couple of meatballs and covered with a couple of spoonfuls of the sauce followed
by a generous sprinkling of the remaining parmesan cheese!