I had the pleasure of spending a few days in Vermont this winter with my family. And like most family gatherings, I took it upon myself to make a huge complicated feast for everyone to enjoy. I spent an entire morning obsessing over what kind of roast to make, compiling shopping lists, researching horseradish cream sauce recipes and brainstorming the ideal winter-vegetable side dish. When my list was finally complete, I breathed a sigh of relief and looked up from my work and out the window to see that the fat, puffy white snow flakes that had been falling since the night before were now coming down twice as fast.
Now, if you live in Vermont, you would look at this and know that it means you should put another log in the wood fire place and not leave your house for any reason. Having been gone for twelve years, I looked at it and thought,
“So Pretty!” and yelled, “Let’s go to the store now! I have to get a beef tenderloin!”
Apparently, my mother, who has lived in Florida for the past eight years had lost this logic as well because she responded, “OK!” Then she, my two cousins and I hopped in to the car and drove head first in to one of the most dangerous blizzards I’ve ever encountered. About fifteen minutes in to the most utterly terrifying trip to the grocery, (which at this rate was going to take three-hours) our car had skidded around like an Olympic figure skater (except less gracefully) and I was in the middle of my third consecutive panic attack.
“I have homemade meatballs in the freezer.” My mom said. “We could make spaghetti.” So we turned around.
That night we all sat around the table next to the warm fireplace, safe and sound. Spaghetti and meatballs had never tasted so good.
A few weeks later, I found myself back home in LA craving the classic combo. This recipe is simple and easy. It calls for only beef but feel free to add ground pork or veal in to the mixture. I like to make the meatballs large so the can be broken up into the sauce.
Spaghetti and Meatballs
- 1 pound spaghetti
- Kosher salt, for boiling water
- 1 1/4 pounds ground beef
- 1 egg, beaten
- 3 slices, crusty Italian bread, for bread crumbs
- 1/3 cup diced yellow onion
- 1 handful fresh chopped oregano, or 1 tablespoon dried
- 1 handful fresh, chopped basil, or 1 tablespoon dried
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup beef broth
- 2 (15-ounce) cans organic tomato sauce
- A handful chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Grated cheese, such as Parmesan for serving
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
In a large pot, bring 3 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti when the water is boiling and cook until soft but still firm to the bite.
Make bread crumbs by tearing the Italian bread in to pieces and placing them in a food processor. Process until you have crumbs. Transfer bread crumbs to a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 5 minutes or until slightly golden brown and crispy. Let cool.
In a large bowl, mix together the egg, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, garlic, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Using your hands, roll the meat into 2 inch large-sized meatballs and place in a cast-iron skillet. Bake balls 12-15 minutes, until no longer pink.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil, crushed pepper, garlic and finely chopped onion. Saute 5 to 7 minutes, until onion bits are soft. Add beef stock, crushed tomatoes, and parsley. Transfer the cast-iron skillet with meatballs to the stove top and pour the tomato sauce over the meatballs. Simmer for 5-10 minutes.
Toss the hot, drained spaghetti with a few ladles of the sauce and grated cheese. Turn meatballs in the sauce. Place pasta on dinner plates and top with meatballs and sauce and extra grated cheese.