Okay, in case you haven’t noticed, I’m a hard-core carb-lover here; pasta and bread are my ultimate comfort food. And does it really get any more homey and comforting than spaghetti and meatballs? Not in my world!
I didn’t actually eat spaghetti and meatballs, like, ever growing up; my family was more of the “mix a pound of ground beef with a jar of Ragu” kind of clan, which is totally fine. But there was a woman in my neighborhood who was married to an Italian and whenever there was a family that needed a meal, she would take them spaghetti with her homemade meatballs and sauce. Our family was never on the receiving end of her meatballs, but I heard about them and I longed for them.
During my senior year of high school, there was a major crisis in our family. At that time, I was in our school musical and since, you know, the show must go on and all that, I had obligations I had to fulfill even though some things at home had fallen apart. After a particularly long night, I heard that this woman had brought our family spaghetti and meatballs and I couldn’t wait to get home and finally try them.
I got home. It was gone. Eaten. I’m not sure I can describe the feeling of loss I experienced–I’d been hoping for one simple pleasure all night and got to eat a bowl of cereal instead.
I never got to try this woman’s spaghetti and meatballs and I never got her recipe (I’m pretty sure it would have to be pried from her lifeless grip, anyway), but if I were to imagine my perfect spaghetti and meatballs, this would be it. With lots and lots to spare so no one’s stuck with a bowl of Lucky Charms.
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Recipe by Our Best Bites
1/2 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 lb. Italian sausage
1/4 c. dry bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. dehydrated onion
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. parsley
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt*
*If you want, you could substitute all the Italicized ingredients with 3 Tbsp. garlic bread seasoning found here.
Gently combine meatball ingredients in a medium bowl. Shape into balls, whatever size you like, but I prefer using my standard cookie scoop (about 1 Tbsp.) to shape meat into balls and then rolling it between my hands to make them even more round. Place on a broiler pan
and broil until the meatballs start to brown–I actually use my toaster oven. Just because I can. Remove from oven and set aside until ready to use (or freeze for later use).
1 large onion, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 28-oz. cans crushed tomatoes
16 oz. tomato sauce
1-2 Tbsp. sugar (to taste)
2 tsp. basil
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of baking soda (to help neutralize the acid)
Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add onion and garlic and cook until onions are translucent and garlic is fragrant. Add remaining sauce ingredients and combine well. Bring to a simmer and add meatballs. Simmer on low, uncovered, until desired consistency is reached–about 25-30 minutes for a sauce that’s of medium consistency (my husband, bless him, likes it very thick while I like it a little on the thin side. Whatever will we do??)
Serve over hot spaghetti (shhhhh…I used linguine!), maybe with some breadsticks and some freshly grated Parmesan on top. Serves a lot–like probably 12 regular people or 2 teenage boys.
FREEZER MEAL INSTRUCTIONS:
Prepare meatballs as directed, but divide the meatballs among two freezer-safe containers. Prepare sauce through adding all ingredients to the pan, but don’t simmer; rather, divide the sauce among the two containers. Freeze until ready to use. When ready to use, place in slow cooker and cook on low for about 5-6 hours, although you’ll want to keep an eye on the sauce and make sure it’s not burning if you go for the whole 6 hours.