When it comes to Italian, the meatball is king, and this one is deserving of the title.
For some reason, if I were to tell my family that it’s spaghetti night, I’d typically hear them grumble about my choice for dinner. They don’t tend to be huge spaghetti and meatball fans. However, when I serve them a plate of tender Italian noodles, featuring a sumptuously large meatball, they all (even my husband) pat me on the back. Why? Because one of the mysteries of Italian food is that if you combine both high-quality ingredients and elegant presentation, you transform an all-too-familiar food into something extraordinary. And you can really taste the love in this recipe! The enormous meatballs hold together so well, they re- minded me of a mini meat loaf, all thanks to the surprise addition of French’s French Fried Onions. // by Lauren Yarborough Nikolas
Servings: 8 (allowing for 1/2 pound meatball per person)
– 1 2.8 ounce can French’s French Fried Onions
– 1 tablespoon basil
– 1 tablespoon oregano
– 1 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
– 4 pounds 80 or 90% lean ground beef
– 2 tablespoons quality olive oil
– 3 24-ounce jars of quality tomato sauce (I used Newman’s Own Fire Roasted Tomato and Garlic)
– 1 16-ounce package of spaghetti noodles (preferably something imported from Italy. Trust me, it makes all the difference!)
– Ready-to-bake garlic bread (optional)
1. Combine all ingredients except sauce, olive oil, and noodles in a stand mixer and blend until the meat mixture is of uniform consistency. The meat should be nice and smooth and not at all chunky. Feel free to use your hands if you don’t have a stand mixer. They work just as well.
2. Heat olive oil in the bottom of an extra large skillet. Form the meat mixture into 1⁄2 pound balls and lay them in the bottom of the skillet. Immediately cover with all three jars of sauce and a lid. Let the meatballs simmer on medium low for about four hours, or if you don’t have time for that, put them in a slow cooker set to medium and go about your day.
Cook’s Tip: If you wish to dress up your sauce, throw in a dash of basil, oregano, a little more balsamic, and a few pinches of kosher salt. Or you can add flavors such as thyme, garlic powder or salt, a little dry wine, or even traditional Italian vegetables such as mushrooms, onions, or asparagus.
3. Once the meatballs have cooked, prepare the spaghetti noodles according to package directions. Top each plate of spaghetti with one colossal meatball and a few scoops of the sauce. Accompany this dish with your favorite Italian wine and a side of crusty garlic bread fresh from the oven. Buon appetito!