ITALIAN-AMERICAN STYLE MEATBALLS IN TOMATO RAGU WITH SPAGHETTI

ITALIAN-AMERICAN STYLE MEATBALLS IN TOMATO RAGU WITH SPAGHETTI (beef, pork and veal, for twelve to sixteen)

 Meatballs, Italian-American meatballs in tomato ragu with spaghetti 1  Meatballs, Italian-American meatballs in tomato ragu with spaghetti 2

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


 

  1. Make the sauce. Drain tomatoes, reserving the juice in a large bowl.  Crush tomatoes with your hands and add to juice.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. S0ak bread in milk in another bowl until soft, about 5 minutes. Firmly squeeze bread to remove excess milk, discarding milk.
  1. 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).
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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).
  1. 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

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