Yoni’s back and I’m teaching him how to make an Italian classic, spaghetti and meatballs! I show him the secrets on how to make the most tender meatballs, bright tomato sauce and perfectly al dente pasta.
Spaghetti and Meatballs
1 hour, 30 minutes
2 hours, 15 minutes
For the Meatballs
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced (about 2 cups)
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 eggs, well beaten
- 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
- ½ cup chicken stock, slightly warmed
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (I use plant-based)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 ½ pounds ground beef, (preferably 80/20 or 85/15)
For the Sauce and Pasta
- 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons butter (I used plant-based)
- ½ medium onion, peeled, root end trimmed
- 1 bunch basil
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Sugar, to taste
- 1 pound good quality spaghetti (I use De Cecco brand)
- Parmesan cheese, for garnish (I use plant-based)
- In a medium skillet over medium high heat, add oil, onion, and a generous pinch of salt. Stir to combine and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the onions have softened and the edges of the onion begin to brown. Add garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and stir to combine. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until garlic is fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- While onion mixture is cooling, make the sauce. In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, add both cans of tomatoes, crushing the peeled tomatoes by hand, or use a potato masher. Add butter, peeled onion half, basil, red pepper flakes, and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to a bare simmer, and taste and season with salt and sugar as needed. Stir occasionally and continue to simmer while assembling and baking meatballs, about 45 minutes. If sauce gets too thick, thin out with a bit of water or stock.
- Preheat oven to 450°F. Line 1 baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, add cooled onion mixture, bread crumbs, chicken stock, Parmesan, tomato paste and black pepper. Whisk to fully combine. Add beef and gently mix to combine with breadcrumb mixture.
- Once combined, portion out 2 ounce balls and gently roll and place on baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until deeply golden brown on one side, then flip and bake on other side for an additional 8-10 minutes.
- Remove meatballs from the oven, add them to the sauce, and bring back to a simmer. Stir, coating the meatballs, and continue to cook for at least an hour and up to 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Cover the pot. The meatballs should begin to break down a bit and become similar to a meat sauce.
- 15 minutes before serving, cook the spaghetti a minute or 2 shy of al dente, according to package directions. Drain and reserve pasta.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, add 1 cup of sauce per serving of pasta. Add pasta and gently toss with tongs to combine. Continue tossing and cooking the pasta until it absorbs a lot of the sauce, 1-2 minutes. Then spoon out as many meatballs and extra sauce as you’d like and add to the skillet. Cook for an additional minute, then divide between bowls and top with Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.
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