Spaghetti and meat balls.... a billion fans and a billion ways, but here's my way

Who doesn't love spaghetti and meat balls please leave the room. This has got to be on the favorites list of most everyone. For you vegans out there, just leave out the meatballs. This recipe for meat balls in a tomato base goes back 50 years in our family and large quantities were always made so that there was a guarantee of leftovers. Otherwise, good luck! We'll first start by preparing the meat balls. These have a wonderful moist texture and are so savory, you might even want to remember the recipe for meat loaf sometime. Here's what you'll need:

1 lb. of lean ground beef
1 lb. of ground sweet Italian sausage
1 cup of Panko bread crumbs
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon smoked Spanish papika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon anise seed
1 cup of flour in a bowl
1/4 cup of olive oil

In a large bowl, add the beef and sausage, breaking it in chunks. Next, add the eggs and Worcestershire sauce and with your hands dig in and mix those ingredients well. Make sure the sausage and beef integrate completely. Now add all your remaining ingredients and continue to mix until everything is well mixed and incorporated.

Now wash your hands well, rinse, but do not towel dry them. When you roll your meat mixture into meat balls, having moist hands will keep the meat from sticking to your hands, so keep them wet. Starting with a soup spoon,  spoon enough mixture into your palm to make a ball about 1 1/2 inch in diameter. Begin to roll the meat into a nice round ball using both your palms. Set each one on a sheet of parchment paper. This amount will make approximately 24 meatballs.

Now heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. While waiting for the oil to heat, start dredging the meat balls in the bowl of flour two at a time. When oil is hot, carefully place the meat balls in the pan, 8 to 10 at a time and saute on each side until browned. This will usually take about 8 minutes per batch. Once each batch is browned, set then on a large plate lined with paper towels. When all meat balls are browned, discard oil and wipe your saute pan of any burned or browned flour. Discard the flour and wash your bowl. Now we will prepare the sauce. For this sauce you will need:

2 large yellow onions, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely sliced
2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
6 medium brown mushrooms, chopped
1 cup of Chianti Wine
1/2 cup beef stock
1 teaspoon of anchovy paste
3 tablespoons of capers
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of ground pepper
1 Italian green pepper finely chopped
1 16 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 6 oz can of tomato paste
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of oregano (dried)
1 teaspoon of basil (dried)

In  the large pan you used, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When oil is hot, saute the onions until translucent. Next, add the garlic and green peppers. Continue to saute over medium heat for a few minutes and add the celery and carrots. Stir and saute for an additional few minutes or so. Now add the Chianti wine and deglaze your pan. Add the diced tomatoes and the mushrooms, reduce heat to medium low. Next add all the remaining dry ingredients including the oregano, basil, salt and pepper,and stir well. Continue to cook over medium low for about 5 minutes and add the beef stock, anchovy paste, capers, and tomato paste. Dissolve the paste and anchovy, mixing and incorporating everything well. Your sauce should have a nice "puree" consistency now. If it's too thick for you, just add a bit more beef stock.

Continue to cook uncovered for another few minutes and then add the meat balls back into the pan, stiring them in so that they are well coated and incorporated into the sauce. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for an additional 15 minutes. When finished, uncover, shut the heat off, and allow the sauce to settle and develop a nice thick creamy texture.

While the sauce was slow cooking, you should have brought a large pot of water to a boil. Choose your choice of pasta (spaghetti or linguini). Add a generous amount of salt to the water, but leave the oil out. Cook your pasta for about 8 to 10 minutes or until it is al dente. Remove pasta using a large fork or pinchers and add to a large serving bowl. Don't remove pasta by draining and DO NOT RINSE over water! By removing the pasta as instructed you'll take some of the pasta water with you which will keep the pasta from sticking and also add flavoring to the sauce. Once pasta is in the serving bowl, add a small ladle of the sauce to the pasta and stir well so that it is nicely coated with a think layer of the sauce. Add the meat balls over the pasta and transfer the sauce to another serving bowl and voila, dinner is ready. Enjoy with wonderful Italian bread, sprinkling of grated Parm or Gruyere, and finish off with a generous helping of butter lettuce and a mild olive oil and lemon juice dressing. Enjoy !!


  1. These can't be wrong - thanks for sharing your way.

  2. I have tried so many ways and thought I had 'mine' perfected, now I gonna have to give yours a try to see how they stand up.... I do not roll mine in flour nor use as much bread binding...and your sauce sounds wonderful......

  3. I'd need to leave out the anchovy paste (gag), but these do look fantastic.

  4. This is one of my husbands' favorite foods! Beautiful job Nick!!

  5. That sauce is just fantastic! Great dish...

  6. Thinking about meatballs, reading about meatballs or seeing meatballs makes me want meatballs. Your use of anise and Panko are innovative ideas, thanks.