Meatballs, to Pan Fry or to Cook in Sauce?
After reviewing numerous blogs and my favorite cookbook, The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, I first decided to take the pan-fry approach. I thought that this would give my meatballs extra texture and depth of flavor since it was going to have some browning of the meat before I cooked it further with a tomato sauce.
Shelly’s Amazeballs, aka the BEST Spaghetti and Meatballs
3 slices white sandwich bread (crusts discarded), torn into small cubes
1/2 cup milk or buttermilk
1/2 pound ground beef chuck
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground veal
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves (or 2 teaspoon of dried parsley)
1 large egg yolk
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper
pinches of crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 lb of spaghetti
1. Soften onions and garlic mixture. Heat up some olive oil in a large sauté pan, over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the minced onions, add a few pinches of salt and crushed red pepper. Cook until it’s soft, about 8 minutes, add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Let it cool down.
2. Make breadcrumbs. Cut off the crusts of your white bread, and tear the bread into small pieces. In a large bowl, add the 1/2 cup of milk/buttermilk and let the breadcrumbs soak for about 5 minutes. Then, mix in the cooled onion mixture.
3. Mix meatball ingredients and roll into balls. Combine ground beef, pork and veal with parmesan cheese, parsley leaves, yolk in the wet breadcrumbs. Be sure to season the mixture with some salt and pepper. I recommend mixing all of this with your hands, but don’t overwork the ingredients. Then, with wet hands, roll into meatballs and place on a plate to freeze.
Alternatively, if you don’t have the time to freeze your meatballs, you can continue on with the next step.
4. Make spaghetti sauce. Coat a large pot with olive oil and heat over medium heat. Once hot, add diced onions and season with salt. After 6-7 minutes, the onions should be soft, so add minced garlic and cook for 2 more minutes, until fragrant. Add the can of crushed tomatoes and heat until it starts to bubble.
5. Add meatballs. At this point, you should be ready to add your meatballs. If they were frozen, just drop them in. If you are putting them in fresh, add them carefully to your sauce. Don’t stir for the rest of the time being, just let the meatballs cook in the sauce. Since adding the meatballs into the sauce will cool the sauce down, you can keep the heat at medium high until the sauce starts to bubble again, and turn to simmer. Add a lid on it, and cook for 2 hours.
6. Cook spaghetti. Once the meatballs are about ready, cook your pasta – boil water in a large pot and season generously with salt. This is the only time you get to season the pasta itself. Drop in spaghetti, and cook till al dente, per the box’s instructions. This should usually take 8-10 minutes.
Once your pasta is done, give your “amazeballs” a quick stir, be sure not to break them up, and serve with parmesan cheese!