For once, my spaghetti and meatballs came out excellently!

My son, bless him, is a wonderful guy and it makes me happy to do things that make him happy; but he hardly ever asks for anything special.

He asked for spaghetti with meatballs once before, and sadly I screwed up by over-spicing the meatballs. Well, he asked for it again tonight, and this time I was determined to get it right. Here’s what I did:

I put salt, pepper, garlic, breadcrumbs, and marjoram in the ground beef. I cooked them halfway in a cast iron skillet, then added a cup or so of water, covered and simmered. When they were almost done, I poured out the water, put in a can of crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, a tablespoon of sugar and a good glug glug of zinfandel.

Served over fettuccini actually, because it has better tooth. It was perfect.

Posted with great respect and affection for the Doper who one day years ago told me the perfect recipe for meatloaf. My entire family thanks you. (one bell pepper, one carrot, one onion.)

You can’t really call it “Spaghetti and meatballs” if you used fettuccine :slight_smile:

But, please, PLEASE be more detailed on how you make meatballs! I’ve done it at least 10 times and they are never any better than the frozen ones I can buy at the store :frowning:

I like to cube up velveeta cheese and melt it in the tomato sauce, and then dice up garlic and use it as a topping.

Never made meatballs, I just buy them from the store. My mom makes amazing meatballs though.

Awesome! Don’t think you needed to do the water bit though. You could have just let them simmer in the tomato.

That’s what I would have done.

Yeah, I either do that or bake them separately and combine at the end, depending on what I’m going.

Funny enough, that’s what I made for dinner today, as well! Turned out great here as well (compliments from the mother-in-law, even! She’s not Italian or Italian-American, but, still!) I use half pork, half beef, whatever stale bread I have around, grated parmesan cheese, very finely diced onion, eggs, salt, pepper, a little bit of nutmeg.

IDK. I usually simmer in a cup of water finish the meatballs before adding the tomatoes. I think mine get mushy if I don’t. YMMV.

But you’re losing some of that meaty flavor to the water! I browned and finished in the over today, no mushiness. If I want a more delicate meatball, I won’t brown and will just poach them in the tomato sauce essentially.

Get one of those tubes of anchovy paste. Add a squeeze into your sauce when you start cooking it. It won’t taste fishy; it’ll just add some undefinable extra flavor.

My meatballs:
1/3rd lean ground chuck
1/3rd ground veal
1/3rd ground Italian sausage
add very finely diced garlic, roasted bell pepper, red shallots
add romano cheese

I mix all of this together and make meatballs about the size of a golf ball, then lightly brown them in olive oil then finish them in a 350 degree oven for about thirty minutes.

When they are done, add them to your sauce and deglaze the baking dish with red wine. Add that to your sauce too…

Along with the meatballs, I heat a baking dish of sweet Italian sausage when they are done I cut them up bite sized and add them to the sauce too.

Deglaze with wine and add that to the sauce.

My Italian grandma NEVER fried or baked her meatballs. They went right into the giant pot of sauce and cooked there. Those were amazing meatballs. They weren’t rolled perfectly round either - more of an egg shape.

Ground beef, ground pork, garlic, parmesan cheese, basil, oregano, fresh parsley and bread crumbs (she actually used wet bread that she’d mush around while mixing the meat).

She’d also start her sauce by browning pork ribs (sometimes pork chops w/bone) in the bottom of the sauce pot. Then add the tomato products. Homemade Italian sausage links cut into chunks were also put in the sauce (I think she fried the sausage with the ribs).

We’ve all tried re-creating her spaghetti and meatballs. We come close but it’s never tasted exactly like hers.

That meal was always the family holiday meal - Christmas, Easter, Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day. I think the only holiday we didn’t have it was Thanksgiving.

Umami is the word you’re looking for. Other sources for this are Worcestershire sauce, unflavored gelatin, fish sauce and Marmite. Adding any of these, or a combination of them, will boost the quality of most any stew-type dish.

Oh, and here’s my meatball recipe:

2 pounds ground beef (15% fat)
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs

That’s practically my recipe exactly, Chefguy. But if I happen to have some sweet Italian sausage in the fridge, I’ll substitute some of it for some of the beef. I like to make a double batch of meatballs when I make them, because they (and the tomato sauce they’re cooked in) freeze very well.

I add Italian from time to time, as well. The main thing for beginners to know about meatballs is not to over handle the meat. Also, Italian meatballs are large; much larger than their Swedish counterparts, and should be about the size of a tangerine.

I’m also a proponent of browning the meatballs, and removing them to the fridge, then making the sauce, using the leftover fat to sweat the onions and any other veg. The sauce simmers from about an hour to several hours, depending on if I’m braising other meats in it (like short ribs). At that size, meatballs take about 20 minutes to heat bak up and cook through, so are added after all else is done cooking. The leftover meatballs and sauce are used for meatball subs, topped with provolone and popped under the broiler.

I’ve been skipping the browning for years. Simply poaching the meatballs in the sauce makes for a fluffier and lighter meatball.