SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS
Spaghetti and meatballs is one of those things that the instant someone says it, you can picture it almost instantly in your mind’s eye. It’s something that I have been eating since I was little, and is a very classic Italian dish that you can find in many restaurants. Last night, I had the right combination of ingredients in my fridge to give spaghetti and meatballs a go.
For the pasta, you can interchange the spaghetti with fettuccine, linguine, or even angel hair pasta (capellini). The recipe portion for the meatballs plays off of my mixture to make Italian-Style Burgers. I wanted to incorporate some of those flavors when you take a bite out of the meatballs in this sauce; however, a lot of flavor will absorb into the meatballs as they are cooked in the pasta sauce.
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Makes about 2 servings
Yields 8 – 10 small-/medium-sized meatballs
~ Spaghetti pasta
~ 1 jar pasta sauce
~ 1/2 lb ground beef
~ 1/4 tsp garlic powder
~ 2 tsp oil
~ 1/4 tsp salt
~ 1/4 tsp pepper
~ 1/2 tsp basil leaves
~ 1 tsp Worchestershire sauce
~ 1/2 egg
~ 1 1/2 tsp Parmesan cheese
~ 1/8 cup (2 tbsp) shredded mozzarella cheese
** Please read the note under Potential Adjustments before starting to follow these instructions.
Start by putting your ground beef into a mixing bowl and then adding in all of the spices and cheeses. Either using your hands or some kitchen utensils, start to mix up the meat so that all of the spices/cheeses spread evenly into the mixture. If the beef mixture seems to have too much moisture, add in some breadcrumbs to compensate for that. Roll the beef mixture into meatballs and set them aside on a plate to get ready for stovetop cooking. Before we get to that, we need to start on the sauce.
Pour the jar of pasta sauce into a medium-sized saucepan. I usually jazz up my pasta sauce with some vegetables like green peppers, onions, mushrooms, or garlic when I have them in the fridge. Last night, I went with adding in some diced onions and garlic. Put the saucepan onto the stove on medium. If it starts to bubble before you finish the next step, reduce it down to medium-low.
Quick sidenote: I usually use a cover on the pot that I’m making the sauce in and when it simmers, some of the sauce splatters onto the bottom of the lid. This time, I used some aluminum foil to cover the bottom of the lid so that I could make for an easy cleanup.
While the sauce starts to heat up, take out a small frying pan and brown the meatballs on the outside. The trick to this is to use a medium-high heat and to flip the meatballs to different sides after no more than 10 – 15 seconds of cooking on one side. Once the meatballs have browned up nicely, drop them right into the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer, and leave that there for 13 – 16 minutes.
While the sauce is cooking, follow the instructions on your box of spaghetti to get that cooked and finished around the same time. Plate it either all mixed together or with the sauce ladled on top of the pasta. I garnished it with some parsley and a few sprinkles of Parmesan cheese.
For me, I think that I might have overkilled the meatballs a little bit when cooking last night. They didn’t come out as soft and moist as I would have liked them to be. I could attribute this to one of two factors: either I cooked them too long while browning the outside, or I cooked them too long in the sauce. The time that I have up in the directions (13 – 16 minutes) reflects an adjusted time of cooking in the sauce (I cooked for 20 minutes in the sauce). But that’s just still an overall guideline.
Based on how big you make the meatballs, they could cook faster or slower. Use your culinary instincts to make the call about how much to adjust the cooking time for the browning in the pan and the cooking in the sauce. I will update this recipe after trying this dish again and post my findings.