ITALIAN-AMERICAN STYLE MEATBALLS IN TOMATO RAGU WITH SPAGHETTI (beef, pork and veal, for twelve to sixteen)
For the tomato sauce:
six 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes in juice (preferably San Marzano)
2 medium onions, chopped
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
For the meatballs:
2 medium onions, finely chopped
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
10 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 cups torn day-old Italian bread
3 cups whole milk
6 large eggs
2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/4 pound)
1/3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
¼ cup finely chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon dried, crumbled
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1-1/2 pounds ground veal
1-/12 pounds ground pork
1-1/2 pounds grounds beef (not lean)
1 cup olive or vegetable oil
For the pasta:
2 pounds dried spaghetti
grated Parmigiano-Reggiano to accompany
- Make the sauce. Drain tomatoes, reserving the juice in a large bowl. Crush tomatoes with your hands and add to juice.
- Cook onions in oil in pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes with their juice, 4 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Simmer sauce, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Season with salt.
- Make the meatballs while the sauce simmers. Cook onions in extra-virgin olive oil in a 12 inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl to cool.
- S0ak bread in milk in another bowl until soft, about 5 minutes. Firmly squeeze bread to remove excess milk, discarding milk.
- Stir together cooled onion mixture, bread, eggs, Parmesan, parsley, oregano, lemon zest, 5-1/2 teaspoons salt and 1-1/2 teaspoons pepper until combined. Add meats to bread mixture, gently mixing with your hands until just combined (do not overmix—gently combining helps preserve the texture, and over-handling will make the meatballs tough).
- Form meat mixture into about seventy 1-1/2 inch balls with dampened hands, arranging meatballs in 2 large baking sheets or in shallow baking pans.
- Heat olive oil or vegetable oil (1 cup) in a 12-inch heavy skillet (preferably non-stick) over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown meatballs in 4 or 5 batches (without crowding), turning frequently, about 5 minutes per batch. Return to baking sheets.
- Add meatballs to sauce and gently simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes. (If pot is not large enough, divide meatballs and sauce between 2 pots).
- Prepare pasta. Cook spaghetti in 2 batches in pasta insert in boiling salted water (3 tablespoons salt for 6 quarts water) until just al dente, draining and tossing each batch with some of the sauce in a large serving dish. Serve with meatballs, remaining sauce and grated cheese.
NOTE: Meatballs can be made and simmered in sauce 5 days ahead and chilled (covered once cool). Meatballs with sauce can be frozen in an airtight container or heavy-duty sealable bags up to 3 months.
from Gourmet Magazine, January, 2009