Spaghetti and Meatballs
This week’s “Back Porch Table” came about two degrees Fahrenheit from being an instructional on how to cook hot dogs on the engine block of your car.
Thankfully, though, many of us have had our power restored from the Great Winter Blast of 2021. My heart is with those of us who still are wrapped in sweaters and blankets, braving 40-degree temperatures indoors.
If you have power, or even if you don’t but you have a gas stove, or if you have a friend who has power, Spaghetti and Meatballs seems like a homey, hearty dinner for these crazy days. It’s warm – and cooking it will warm up your kitchen, and any stomachs you have to feed. Also, there’s something about rolling meatballs that is meditative enough to take our minds off of the wild ride we’ve all experienced these past 11 months.
The sauce and meatballs in this recipe are punched-up. If you don’t have one or several of the ingredients, don’t fret. Use what you have (are we really back to pantry cooking again??), and go from there.
For anyone who is currently a house guest, I imagine you’d be welcomed back any time if you bring a big platter of Spaghetti and Meatballs to the table.
Warm wishes to all.
For the Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 ½ teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with basil
1 24-ounce jar marinara
For the Meatballs:
2 slices bread, soaked in ¼ cup milk
2 pounds ground beef
1 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ cup minced fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
For the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until they are soft. Add the oregano, basil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and bay leaves and stir. Add the crushed tomatoes and marinara. Fill the empty can of tomatoes with water, and stir the water in. Simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, for about 3 hours. The sauce will have thickened.
While the sauce simmers, make the meatballs. In a large bowl, use your hands to combine to milk-soaked bread, beef, sausage, eggs, parmesan, garlic, oregano, basil, parsley, salt, and pepper. Roll meat into 3-inch round balls, and place them in a glass baking dish. Cover the meatballs and refrigerate.
When the sauce has thickened, stir in enough water to thin it to the consistency of a thick soup. Gently arrange the meatballs in the sauce, making sure they are covered with sauce. Cover the pot and simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes. Gently turn the meatballs over. Cover the pot and simmer for another 20 minutes.
Serve the meatballs and sauce over the cooked spaghetti, sprinkling some minced parsley and grated parmesan cheese over the top.
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