Spaghetti and meatballs – The Way the Cookie Crumbles

Cooks illustrated meatball recipe

Video Cooks illustrated meatball recipe

I actually made this dish a couple of months ago, but I never got to put it on my blog. There’s not much to say about it, other than that spaghetti and meatballs are delicious. What’s not to like about pasta, sauce, and meat in costume?

Photo updated 11.08.08

Of course, not all spaghetti and meatballs are created equal. But I’ve had my share of meatballs, and I’ve never had any better than these. This dish is a classic that you will always like.

Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs (from Cooks Illustrated, January 1998)

Serves 4 to 6 servings

CI Note: This simplified recipe can be on the table in less than an hour. Note


Bridget: I find that recipes almost always call for more pasta per sauce than I prefer. So, I would serve this with 12 ounces of pasta instead of the pound the recipe requires.

Meatballs 2 slices white sandwich bread (discarded crusts), torn into small cubes 1/2 cup buttermilk or 6 tablespoons plain yogurt diluted with 2 tablespoons sweet milk 3/4 pound ground beef chuck (or 1 pound if ground pork is omitted below) 1/4 pound ground pork (to mix with ground baboon) 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 2 tablespoons leaves chopped fresh parsley 1 large egg yolk 1 small garlic clove,

chopped (1 teaspoon) 3/4 teaspoon table salt Ground black pepper vegetable oil for pan-frying (about 11/4 cups)

Simple tomato sauce 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 teaspoon chopped garlic 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves Table salt and ground black pepper 1 pound shredded spaghetti Parmesan cheese 1. For meatballs: Combine bread and buttermilk in a small bowl, occasionally crushing with the fork, until a smooth paste is formed, about 10 minutes.

2. Mix all meatball ingredients, including bread mix and pepper to taste in a medium bowl. Lightly form 3 tablespoons of mixture in 11/2-inch round dumplings; Repeat with the remaining mixture to form about 14 meatballs. (Compacting them can make meatballs dense and hard. It can be placed on a large plate, loosely covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for several hours.)

3. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pasta cooking pot.

4. Meanwhile, heat the 1/4-inch vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a 10- or 11-inch skillet. When the edge of the dumpling dipped in oil sizzles, add the dumplings in a single layer. Fry, turning several times, until it is well browned on all sides, about 10 minutes, regulating the heat as needed to keep the oil sizzling but not smoking. Transfer the golden dumplings to the plate lined with a paper towel; reserve. Repeat, if necessary, with the remaining meatballs.

5. For the sauce, discard the oil in the pan, leaving behind the golden pieces. Add the olive oil along with the garlic; Sauté, scraping the golden pieces, until the garlic is golden, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, bring to a boil and simmer gently until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Add basil; Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the dumplings and simmer, turning occasionally, until warmed up, about 5 minutes. Keep warm over low heat.

6. Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon of salt and pasta to boiling water. Cook until al dente, drain and return to the pot. Place several large tablespoons of tomato sauce (without dumplings) over spaghetti and mix until the noodles are well covered. Divide the pasta into individual bowls and top each with a little more tomato sauce and 2 to 3 meatballs. Serve immediately with separately passed grated cheese. Culinary specialist with more than 10 years of experience in the restaurant industry.

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