Spaghetti and meatballs doesn't have to be a meal that you slave over and simmer all day, nor does it need to put you into hibernation once you've eaten it. You can mix, shape, and fry these meatballs in exactly the time it takes for Marcella Hazan's tomato, butter, and onion sauce to cook (or even this 20-minute marinara, if you're really fast). The caveats: 1. Make your own fresh breadcrumbs (i.e., grind up some stale bread) or, if your crumbs are purchased and quite fine, cut back by half, and don't use quite as much water. I can't be responsible for your stiff, mealy dumpling-balls if you don't heed this. 2. Use local, pastured, not very lean meats if at all possible. Good flavor and fat go a long way here.
Helpful tools for this recipe:
- Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Sauteuse
- Five Two Wooden Spoons
- Five Two Double-Sided Bamboo Cutting Board
Test Kitchen Notes
Adapted slightly from Rao's Cookbook by Frank Pellegrino (Random House, 1998) —The Editors
- Prep time 15 minutes
- Cook time 30 minutes
- Makes 28 meatballs
lean ground beef
grated Pecorino Romano
1 1/2 tablespoons
chopped Italian parsley
small clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
good-quality olive oil
Your favorite marinara sauce (we like Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce With Onion and Butter, also on Food52)
- In a large bowl, combine the beef, pork, and veal. Add the eggs, cheese, parsley, and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Using your hands, mix to combine. Add the breadcrumbs and mix again to combine. Slowly add the water, 1 cup at a time, until the mixture is quite moist. Shape into 2½- to 3-inch balls.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil. When the oil is very hot but not smoking, fry the meatballs in batches. When the bottom of the meatball is very brown and slightly crisp, turn and cook the top half. Remove from the heat and drain on paper towels.
- Lower the cooked meatballs into the simmering marinara sauce and cook for 15 minutes. Serve alone or with pasta.