Spaghetti and Meatballs is a classic Italian dish perfect as a make ahead meal for company or family! These meatballs are tender, juicy and oh so tasty!
There is nothing like homemade meatballs. In Italian homes store-bought meatballs are almost sacrilegious. This recipe is from my Italian mother-in-law, (Also named Anna) she is really Italian, born in Naples…you can’t get much more authentic than that!
The beautiful thing about Spaghetti and Meatballs is that you can make a large quantity of these delicious orbs of meaty goodness and freeze some for future use. It is very easy to double this recipe.
Also, if you don’t eat beef, you can substitute just about any ground meat or sausage that you prefer. The flavors will be different, but you will still have a delicious meatball!
The classic meat mixture is equal parts of ground beef, pork, and veal. However, I have made turkey meatballs, using equal parts of ground turkey and turkey Italian sausage, removed from the casings. If using turkey, try to use turkey meat that is mixed, not just ground turkey breast. Otherwise, you will need to add more oil since turkey breast has very little fat. You could also add pork to this mixture.
Feel free to experiment with different meats. You could also use ground chicken and chicken sausage.
Take the ground meats out of the refrigerator when you start assembling the ingredients and grating the cheese, etc., otherwise they are REALLY cold when you start mixing.
Put the meats, garlic, parsley, cheese, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and egg into a large bowl and mix well. Some people do this with a wooden spoon, I like to use my hands to really get all the ingredients squished together and well mixed.
Once everything is well incorporated, add 1/4 cup of water and mix well. Continue adding water, a couple tablespoons at a time, until the texture of the mixture is tender. It should be as tender as you would like when you bite into the meatballs.
Roll the mixture into 16 meatballs. They will be about 2″ in diameter each.
Before I start cooking the meatballs, I always cook just one. Then I taste it and decide if it needs more cheese or more garlic or salt or pepper, or…. If it’s perfect, the whole lot gets cooked. If something needs to be added, I add it, then cook another and taste that one. This way you get a perfect batch every time.
There are 3 acceptable ways to cook meatballs — frying, roasting, or in the sauce.
This is the classic method. Heat a large frying pan (12″ to 14″, we prefer cast iron) over medium-high heat, add oil and heat until it shimmers. Add meatballs to the pan, keeping about an inch and a half apart, don’t crowd them. Fry the meatballs slowly so that they brown and cook through at the same time. You may need to adjust your heat under the pan occasionally.
If you prefer, you can just brown the meatballs and then put them in the red sauce as it cooks to finish them. This gives the sauce a wonderful deep flavor.
Heat the oven to 400º F. Oil a baking sheet and place the meatballs about 2″ apart. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes turning halfway through cooking. Remove from the oven when they are cooked through.
This is the easiest way to cook the meatballs. It’s also is the best way to give the sauce a wonderful depth of flavor. Just drop the raw meatballs directly into the simmering sauce, they should be cooked through within about 20 minutes.
Whichever way you decide to cook these orbs of deliciousness, always break one open to ensure that the meat has cooked through.
If you want to make your own pasta, you can find out how Nonna Anna does it here!