Making spaghetti and meatballs brought back a memory of my time in Rome. I was eating at the house of a native Roman family and they served a first course of pasta with red sauce. I was seated next to the little Italian grandmother and as I began to eat my pasta she let out a horrified gasp and slapped my hand. In a loud and adamant voice she said “You twirl!! Never cut!” Yes, I had committed the cardinal spaghetti sin of cutting my pasta into manageable bites with my fork. The grandmother then demonstrated the proper twirling technique…she expertly swirled the noodles around her utensil for so that each unruly strand submitted to her will and tucked neatly around her fork. I was properly admonished.
I’m willing to bet, however, that that little Italian grandmother would enjoy our spaghetti and meatballs (even though spaghetti and meatballs is not a native Italian dish!) The meatballs are flavorful and juicy and the sauce is rich and complex (the result of hours of simmering.) So, I challenge you to channel your own inner Italian grandmother and make this dish!
I tried to find a “Skull Splitter” wine to match Nathan’s beer but couldn’t. I had to settle for this red blend wine that ended up being a pretty solid pairing for the pasta. The wine had a strong berry taste that contrasted well with the savory flavors of the spaghetti and meatballs.
This strong ale was certainly an interesting beer. I figured, how can you go wrong with a beer that has a Viking on the label!? A Viking would probably enjoy the toasty malt characters with a slightly sour undertone which is much like a brown ale. The sour and malt flavors manage to balance each other out well but then the flavor just sort of disappears on your palette.
Spaghetti and Meatballs
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, 4 minced and 2 whole
½ cup Portobello mushrooms, chopped
2 28-oz cans Italian plum tomatoes (get San Marzano brand if possible)
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 can tomato paste, 6 oz.
¼ cup Kalamata olives, chopped
¼ cup roasted red peppers, chopped (I used a jarred variety)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 lb ground beef (at least 16% fat)
3 mild Italian sausage links
4-6 slices bacon, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
¾ cup unseasoned bread crumbs
¼ cup grated parmesan-romano cheese blend
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
Prepare the sauce. Heat olive oil in 4-5 quart pot on medium-high heat. Add onions and cook for 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add mushrooms, blend together for 2 minutes. Add canned tomatoes, stir together. Add basil, parsley and red pepper flakes and stir tomatoes with a potato masher until sauce starts to thicken about 5 minutes over medium high heat. Add tomato paste, stir to blend. Add olives and red peppers and reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 hours on low heat.
After the sauce has simmered, prepare the meatballs. Mix by hand in a large bowl beef, Italian sausage, bacon, garlic, parsley, eggs, breadcrumbs, cheese, salt, and pepper until well mixed. Use a tablespoon measure to form 1-inch round meat balls. Roll and compress into tight balls.
Heat frying pan on high heat. Add olive oil. Sear and brown meat balls on all sides. About 2-3 minutes. Depending on pan size you may need to brown two batches of the meatballs. Do not crowd the pan by stacking the meatballs. Cook in a single layer. Do not over-cook.
Add meatballs to sauce, gently stir. Simmer sauce and meatballs for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Salt and pepper sauce to taste.
While the sauce is simmering cook pasta according to package directions (or make your own fresh pasta like we did! We used this recipe.)
To serve place pasta on a plate, add sauce and meatballs, sprinkle with grated parmesan-romano cheese.