Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Back sometime ago I first came into contact with traditional Italian food made by a well trained Mediterranean cuisine chef Luigi Viola.
Luigi was in his sixties and he had this little Italian bistro that he and his family ran.
He sure had his way with Italian food and gave a great many city folk their first taste of real pizza and calzones along with veal parmesan and home style meatballs and spaghetti.
Some Italian chefs I was later tutored by like Umberto Mengi and Valentina Harris would use ground veal and make these fluffy little meatballs that they would infuse truffles and other exotic ingredients with.
These meatballs tasted great but to me this was unpractical for such a simple meal that I still call one of my most favourite comfort foods.
I find that simple is good when attempting this dish.
Luigi’s Viola’s grandmother who hand crafted the meat balls for over 85 years showed me this recipe. She would make meatballs the more traditional way like the average working Italian family would prepare such a peasant meal.
How ever simple this recipe is it is important to use fresh dried basil and oregano not the stuff that has been in your cupboard since day one. I use fresh grated Reggiano Parmesan cheese also.
The baked bread crumbs by Pastene that you can get in the grocery store are especially used for this purpose. They do not absorb the cooking juices as much, dissolve quicker and have no after taste like plain bread crumbs.

If you make your own fresh pasta that’s great but I prefer the dry box De Cecco brand from Italy.
I found that 9 out of 10 Italian families use this or similar product at home.
It can be purchased at grocery or specialty food stores.
It’s not hard to find when you ask for this product by name. It can be quickly identified by its bright blue and yellow package.

I use two 28 oz. cans of San Remo whole Italian Plum organic tomatoes for the sauce.
Add to the food processor with 1 tbs of olive oil, a couple of smashed garlic cloves, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste and purée the mixture. Set aside.
I do not add any herbs or tomato paste to the sauce allowing the ingredient flavours to come through better. Do not use an aluminum pot for this sauce or it will pick up the acidic flavours caused by chemical reactions by the aluminum.

I use 450 grams of fresh ground chuck burger 85% lean and 15% fat content with a 100 gram Piquante Italian sausage which I would remove from the skin.

Now in a large bowl add the meat and sausage.
1 tsp of kosher salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
1tbs dry granulated garlic
1tsp of dried basil
1 tsp of dried oregano
¼ cup of bread crumbs
¼ cup of grated parmesan cheese
1 large fresh organic egg

Mix the ingredients by hand pushing and folding in the ingredients.
Run some warm water over your hand occasionally and continue mixing till well blended.
Let rest for a half hour so the flavours will marry well together.
Now in your hand pick out enough meat the size of a golf ball and in you moist palms roll the balls gently and place them into a medium heated large thick bottomed fry pan containing olive oil.
Repeat till finished.
Turn the meatballs over and brown on all sides.
This is a little more work this way instead of putting them in the oven but keeps the meat ball moist and set for the next procedure.
When the meatballs are browned on all sides pace them into a Stainless steel pot and add the puree of tomato and bring to a boil stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to very low and let simmer for about 30 minutes. While this happening place a large pot of water on the stove and bring to a rolling boil. Add the spaghetti and follow package instructions cooking time till cooked al dente.
In a heated bowl place a little of the sauce and a portion of pasta.
Cover with a ladle of sauce and a few meatballs, some fresh grated parmesan along with some fresh dried chili flakes if you like.
Serve with some crusty hot bread and your favourite beverage.
You now will have a meal that will have you saying Prego!