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Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe

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  • 2 slices white sandwich bread (crusts discarded), torn into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk or 6 tbs plain yogurt thinned with 2 tbs milk
  • 3/4 pound ground beef chuck (or 1 pound if omitting ground pork below)
  • 1/4 pound ground pork (to be mixed with ground chuck)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbs minced, flat leaf parsley
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 garlic clove , minced
  • 3/4 tsp table salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • vegetable oil for pan-frying (about 1 1/4 cups)

Spicy Tomato Sauce:

  • 2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbs fresh thyme, minced (or 1 tbs dried)
  • 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp crush red chiles (optional)
  • 1 tbs minced fresh basil leaves
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • grated Parmesan cheese


Recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated.

1. For the meatballs: Combine bread and buttermilk in small bowl, mashing occasionally with fork, until smooth paste forms, about 10 minutes.

2. Mix all meatball ingredients, including bread mixture and pepper to taste in medium bowl. Lightly form 3 tablespoons of mixture into 1 1/2-inch round meatballs; repeat with remaining mixture to form approximately 14 meatballs. (Compacting them can make the meatballs dense and hard. Can be placed on large plate, covered loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerated for several hours.)

3. Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in large pot for cooking pasta.

4. Meanwhile, heat 1/4 -inch vegetable oil over medium-high heat in 10- or 11-inch sauté pan. When edge of meatball dipped in oil sizzles, add meatballs in single layer. Fry, turning several times, until nicely browned on all sides, about 10 minutes, regulating heat as needed to keep oil sizzling but not smoking. Transfer browned meatballs to paper towel--lined plate; set aside. Repeat, if necessary, with remaining meatballs.

5. For the sauce, discard oil in pan, leaving behind any browned bits. Add olive oil along with the onion, sauté until softened (5-7 minutes) , scraping up any browned bits. Add garlic and thyme and cook until garlic is golden, about 30 seconds. Add red chilis and cook for 1-2 minutes, then add tomatoes, bring to boil, and simmer gently until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Stir in basil; add salt and pepper to taste. Add meatballs and simmer, turning them occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Keep warm over low flame.

6. Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta to boiling water. Cook until al dente, drain, and return to pot. Ladle several large spoonfuls of tomato sauce (without meatballs) over spaghetti and toss until noodles are well coated. Divide pasta among individual bowls and top each with a little more tomato sauce and 2 to 3 meatballs. Serve immediately with grated cheese passed separately.