Spaghty with meat balls

The classic Italian American dish cooked right. Use either our basic tomato sauce recipe or our marinara recipe for this dish.

What to buy: Meatballs shouldn’t be where you hide second-grade ground beef, so look for quality meat from a good butcher. Our turkey, beef, and pork combo tastes great, but any combination will work, even straight envelope or ground sirloin. If you can choose, switch to full-flavor ground turkey thigh meat instead of the breast.

Complete the meal with an easy garlic bread recipe.

  • yields: 10 to 12 servings
  • difficulty: easy
  • the total: 1 hour 40 minutes

components (17)

To prepare the meatballs:

  • 1/4 pound stale rustic bread (such as ciabatta), removed from the crusts and torn into large pieces (about 2 packed cups)
  • 3/4 cup full fat milk
  • 2 medium size garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 pound ground beef (minced chuck works great)
  • 1 pound minced pork
  • 1 pound ground turkey (thigh preferred)
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion (such as Maui or Vidalia), minced
  • 3 large eggs
  • 6 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves (from half a bunch)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano (from 1/4 package)
  • 6 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 8 cups of tomato sauce as basic tomato sauce

To serve:

  • 1 1/2 pounds dry pasta
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)


To prepare the meatballs:

  1. Put the torn bread into a small bowl and cover with the milk. (Push the bread down until completely wet.) Leave it to soak until most of the milk has been absorbed and the bread is cracked, about 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, place garlic and fennel seeds on a cutting board and sprinkle all the pepper and salt on top. Cut the mixture until it becomes a coarse paste (similar to cornmeal).
  3. Place meat in a large bowl and mix until evenly blended, about 3 minutes. Add the bread and any remaining milk and mix until the bread is all incorporated (break up any pieces of bread). Add onions and mix well. Add eggs and mix until combined. Add garlic paste, fennel, parsley, oregano, and shredded cheese and mix until evenly combined.
  4. Roll a handful of the meat mixture between your hands until it is soft, compact and well rounded. (Each meatball should be about 2 inches in diameter.) Place the meatballs on a plate and repeat until you are done with the meat mixture. (You should have about 30 meatballs.)
  5. Heat a large skillet over medium low heat. Once hot, place the meatballs in the skillet, leaving about 1/4 inch between each one. (You may have to do this in two batches.) Leave each meatball brown on one side, then flip it when it becomes very brown. Keep stirring until the meatballs are well browned on all sides, about 20 minutes.
  6. Transfer the meatballs to a Dutch oven or large, heavy-bottomed saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, cover with tomato sauce, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until meatballs are tender, about 30 minutes. The meatballs can be eaten right away, although they improve in flavor if they are left to rest in the sauce for 10 to 20 minutes before serving.

To serve:

  1. While the meatballs are cooking, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain.
  2. Serve pasta with meatballs and sauce. Top with Parmesan cheese if desired.

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