The ultimate spaghetti and meatballs recipe in a rich tomato sauce. Slow cooker/crock pot methodPosted by Fiona Nevile in Beef and Steak and Veal, Rice and Pasta | 7 comments
“Wow! This is the best spaghetti and meatballs that I’ve ever tasted.”
Danny was reaching for seconds before he’d even finished his first portion.
Now before you reach for your shopping list I just want to make one thing clear. I have never sampled American spaghetti and meatballs. My recipe tasted pretty good to me too but this recipe is just how I imagined perfect American spaghetti and meatballs should taste.
As a child I’m certain that we didn’t eat spaghetti with meatballs. I’ve always thought of it as an American dish. Wikipedia informs me that there are areas in Italy that have meatball recipes that pre date the American ones. Meatballs were added to pasta as a festival treat. However meatballs with spaghetti seems to be an American speciality.
If I was making these just for me I’d add a half teaspoon of dried chilli flakes. But Danny doesn’t like hot, chilli flavours. I did add a half teaspoon of chilli sauce to my portion and then this recipe hit every spot for me.
I started playing with meatball recipes when I overdosed Danny on Bolognaise sauce. He still looks feverish at the mention of bolognaise and, between you and me, it’s quite fun to pretend that’s what I’m cooking when I’m actually preparing a sauce for meatballs. Naughty, I know but all is forgiven when I place a dish of steaming, tasty meatballs in front of him.
My mum loves meatballs too. So we always try and hold back a bit to leave a couple of dainty portions for her freezer. Aged 92 how did she discover them? Was it from American soldiers during the war or a ready meal from Waitrose?
I think a large dish of spaghetti and meatballs in a rich tomato sauce is one of my ultimate comfort foods. Over the years I have played with meatball recipes a lot and have come to the conclusion that the sauce is best made in the slow cooker/crock pot. This both reduces and thickens the sauce and intensifies the flavours. Meatballs need a thickish sauce to cling to the spaghetti for ultimate chin splattering guzzling.
There's just on thing to remember when you are cooking at home. Only the worst recipes are set in stone and if you find one of these kick it out of the kitchen immediately. A good recipe will always invite you to tweak to create a dish that is tailor made to your taste. If you are wary about fiddling with a recipe, try playing with a couple of tablespoons of the sauce – if you don’t hit gold you can toss your experiment away without anyone even knowing that you’d even been testing the options. If you do hit gold, just rack up the quantities and change the entire sauce. If you try and tweak the entire sauce you might be filling up your bin and having to serve something else. Until I discovered thi tricks, Danny ate an awful lot of omelettes. And that was before the world announced that eggs are good for you.
The sauce in this recipe is made and left to chill for 24 hours before heating it up gently in a sauté pan and adding freshly made meatballs and simmering them for just twenty minutes. This guarantees that the meatballs are soft, tasty and a great foil for the rich sauce.
So finally after D's accolade this tomato rich sauce is actually my swansong basic recipe. I’d like to try an experiment with the meatballs – mixing pork and beef mince or even try lamb mince. The sauce could be tweaked with a splosh of red wine or a sprinkle of chilli flakes but the basic recipe will remain the same.
If you want an easy, foolproof spaghetti and meatballs recipe try this one. You won’t regret it.
|The ultimate delicious spaghetti and meatballs recipe in a rich tomato sauce. Slow cooker/crock pot method|
- The sauce:
- 2 sweet Romano red peppers – deseeded and chopped into 1cm x 2 cm chunks
- 1 sweet red bell pepper - deseeded and chopped into 1cm x 2 cm chunks
- 2 x 400g cans of good quality tinned tomatoes
- 500ml of passatta
- 1 tsp of garlic granules/or a large clove of garlic
- Half a tsp of dried oregano
- Half a tsp of dried thyme
- Half a tsp of balsamic vinegar
- Half a tsp of Lea and Perrins Worcesetershire sauce
- 2 tsp of soft brown sugar – optional (taste, taste, taste)
- 2 tsp of vegetable stock powder
- Salt and pepper to taste at the end of cooking
- The meatballs:
- 700g of very fresh minced beef
- 100ml of milk
- 70g of fresh white breadcrumbs
- Half a tsp of dried mixed herbs
- Large pinch of salt and a good dash of white pepper
- 1 tbsp of finely grated Parmesan/ Grana Padano cheese
- 1 large egg
- 4 tablespoons of finely grated Parmesan/ Grana Padano cheese to garnish before serving.
- The sauce:
- Add all the ingredients to the slow cooker/stock pot and stir well. Turn the knob to high and leave (lid on) until the sauce is simmering (this usually takes about an hour). Then turn to low and simmer for 2-3 hours. Taste testing after 2 hours. The pieces of sweet pepper should have vanished, just leaving their sweetness in the sauce. Sample the sauce and season to taste.
- Cool the sauce completely and leave for 24 hours.
- The meatballs:
- Add all the ingredients to a large bowl and stir well. Cover the bowl with cling film or a tight lid and refrigerate for a day.
- I prepare the meatball mixture 24 hours before but make the meatballs up just minutes before cooking them. Fashion them gently into the size of a large walnut. This insures that they are soft and gently yielding all the way though rather than the compressed cannon balls that I’ve choked on in the past.
- Combine the sauce and the meatballs:
- In a large sauté pan heat the sauce gently and add the meatballs. Our large sauté pan will hold 15 meatballs so with us they have to be cooked in two batches. The first batch happily sits in a warm place with a little sauce until the other half is ready.
- Serve on warm plates with a decent sprinkle of finely grated Parmesan cheese – or any other hard Italian cheese, such as Grana Padano.
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