Cooking Lesson: Spaghetti and Meatballs

As many of you know my favorite food is spaghetti and meatballs.  I love it because of the carb-fest, the mix of flavors and a certain sentimental value.  When I was super down in life I made a spaghetti and meatballs and as odd as it might sound I had an ‘ah, ha’ moment about my life.  I recounted that experience in the chapter of my nanobook I entitled ‘The Spaghetti Incident’.  You can read about it here:

Basically I said to myself ‘why isn’t the rest of my life as good as this spaghetti’.  6 years later my life is close to as good as that spaghetti, which I am very grateful for.  Hopefully some day I will get all the way as good but a girl’s got to leave some room for dreaming. 🙂

Anyway, my friend and fellow bookclub buddy Rachel Bey asked if I could do one of my famous cooking lessons.  She didn’t know what she wanted to learn how to make and so I suggested making spaghetti and meatballs (if she doesn’t know why not make my favorite food).I think this is the 6th lesson I’ve done over the last year and a half or so and I really enjoy it.   Its fun to cook with friends, share talents and make delicious food all at the same time.  I’ve been thinking I may want to come up with a mini-cookbook and update it as I do more lessons.

I started this recipe with Ina Garten’s spaghetti and meatball recipe and then added my own flare (and yes to you Italian purists I put sugar in the sauce, so good).

spaghetti 5
Rachel making meatballs
spaghetti 4
Stirring the sauce. The water for the pasta for some reason took forever to boil.
spaghetti 1
A good meal, good friends. Happy day
spaghetti 3
Rachel liked it too.

Spaghetti and Meatballs (my recipe inspired by Ina Garten with a bunch of my additions)

For the meatballs:

1/2 pound ground Italian sausage (Ina calls for veal but who can afford that)
1/2 pound ground pork
1 pound ground beef
1 cup fresh white bread crumbs (4 slices pulsed to crumbs in food processor)
1/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 extra-large egg, beaten

3/4 cup of water
Vegetable oil
Olive oil

For the sauce:

1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 cup chicken stock (Ina calls for wine but I don’t cook with that)
2(28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, or plum tomatoes in puree, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp sambal or other hot sauce
3 tbsp sugar
Italian seasoning

For serving:

1 1/2 pounds spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
Freshly grated Parmesan


Place the ground meats, both bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, egg, and 3/4 cup warm water in a bowl. Mix all ingredients together with your hands or a spoon if you aren’t brave. Then lightly form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs. I like to put them on cookie sheets as I make them.

Pour equal amounts of vegetable oil and olive oil into a large (12-inch) skillet to a depth of 1/4-inch. Heat the oil. Very carefully, in batches, place the meatballs in the oil and brown them well on all sides over medium-low heat, turning carefully. This should take about 10 minutes for each batch. Don’t crowd the meatballs. I then put them on a cookie sheet in the oven at 350 to keep warm and bake all the way through.

For the sauce, heat the olive oil in the same pan. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the chicken stock and cook on high heat deglazing the pan. Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, salt, and pepper.  Once it heats through add hot sauce, sugar, Italian seasonings to taste.  Heat all the way through and then let simmer as long as you can

Put meatballs into sauce and let cook a few minutes together until spaghetti noodles are done (follow package instructions.  Our water took forever to boil).  I personally like to keep my pasta and sauce separate and then plate them together but if you like to mix them all up in one pot that is fine.  Top with parmesan cheese and a little basil or parsley.
The finished product.  So good!
The finished product. So good!



3 thoughts on “Cooking Lesson: Spaghetti and Meatballs

    1. Please let me know how it goes. I love doing the cooking lessons and this was my favorite one. So yummy!

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