Spaghetti con Polpette di Carne (Spaghetti and Meatballs)

I have a confession to make. I've never made spaghetti and meatballs before. I married an Italian and I've never made spaghetti and meatballs. So when we decided to rent The Godfather, I decided that we must watch it while eating spaghetti and meatballs and drinking red wine. So that's what we did. We even had his parents over. So I knew I needed a good recipe. I figured my best bet was Lidia Bastianich, and all I can say is it turned out amazing. It impressed a table full of Italians, and we loved every last bite. The only changes I made were to use a pork/veal/beef combination (sold as meatloaf mix in most stores) and whole wheat breadcrumbs. I made another batch of garlic bread to serve alongside. This meal rocked and will definitely go into our regular rotation. Yum!

Spaghetti con Polpette di Carne (Spaghetti and Meatballs)
Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen - Lidia Bastianich

Makes 6 servings

For the Sauce:
Two 35-ounce cans Italian plum tomatoes, (preferably San Marzano) with
their liquid
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 teaspoon crushed hot red pepper
2 bay leaves
Freshly ground black pepper

For the Meatballs:
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground beef
1 cup fine, dry bread crumbs
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
1 large egg
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 pound spaghetti
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Pass the tomatoes and their liquid through a food mill fitted with the fine disc. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a 4- to 5-quart pot over medium high heat. Stir in the onion and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 4 minutes. Pour in the tomatoes, crushed red pepper and bay leaves, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the sauce is at a lively simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally,
30 minutes.

Meanwhile, crumble the pork and beef into a mixing bowl. Sprinkle the bread crumbs, 1/3 cup grated cheese, the parsley, and garlic over the meat. Beat the egg with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a small bowl until blended. Pour over the meat mixture. Mix the ingredients with clean hands just until evenly blended. Don't overmix. Shape the meat mixture into 1-1/2 inch balls.

Dredge the meatballs in the flour until lightly but evenly coated. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil and the vegetable oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Slip as many meatballs into the skillet as will fit without crowding. Fry, turning as necessary, until golden brown on all sides, about 6 minutes. Adjust the heat as the meatballs cook to prevent them from overbrowning. Remove the meatballs, and repeat if
necessary with the remaining meatballs.

Add the browned meatballs to the tomato sauce and cook, stirring gently with a wooden spoon, until no trace of pink remains at the center of the meatballs, about 30 minutes.

Stir the spaghetti into the boiling water. Return to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook the pasta, semi-covered, stirring occasionally, until done, about 8 minutes.

Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Spoon in about 2 cups of the tomato sauce, tossing well until the pasta is coated with sauce. Remove from the heat and toss in 2/3 cup grated cheese. Check the seasoning, and add salt and pepper if necessary. Serve the pasta in warm bowls or piled high on a large warm platter. Spoon a little more of the sauce over the pasta, and pass the remaining sauce separately. Pass the meatballs family-style in a bowl, or top the bowls or platter of spaghetti with them.

MacGourmet Rating: 5 Stars

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