Spaghetti and meatballs is a classic comfort food. It’s also fairly easy to make, and it brings to mind all of those warm memories of other spaghetti dinners (or maybe just “Lady and the Tramp”). This Saturday is National Meatball Day, so there’s no better time to try to perfect this classic favorite. Here are some tips to get the dish just right.
It Starts With Sauce
While almost all spaghetti and meatballs is delicious, the right sauce makes this a pasta dish that really dazzles. The secret is to get a sauce that retains a slight acidity from the tomatoes but is overall a mellow blend of flavors. The key to this is cook time. When the sauce simmers, the acidity of the tomatoes lessens and the other spices come forward, so you have to simmer it long enough to remove most of that tart acidity. If it simmers too long, however, all those flavors blend too much and the effect is a muted, bland flavor. 2-3 hours is a good range for most sauce recipes, especially if you’re including an accent of red pepper, bay leaf, and oregano. Basil is also an important flavor for great tomato sauce, so don’t be too light-handed with it.
Mix Your Meats
Many people opt for just ground beef, but using a mix of meats guarantees a more flavorful meatball. A traditional meat mix includes beef, pork, and veal and it produces a very tender and flavorful meatball. Many people also like to incorporate sausage or bacon into their meatballs. Choose meats that you like and experiment with different combinations. If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, try making “meatballs” with tempeh or roasted chickpeas!
Making The Meatballs
Meatballs are more than just meat; they also have breadcrumbs, egg, seasoning, and sometimes cheese. If you want really tender meatballs, exchange the breadcrumbs for day-old bread soaked in milk. It sounds odd but it makes an amazing meatball. For seasoning, include the standards of Italian cuisine, oregano and red pepper flakes, but you can also add depth by including ground fennel seeds. If you like cheese in your meatballs, Parmesan is a great choice. While you’re mixing it all up, break off small bits and brown them in oil for taste testing. This way you’ll know the batch is good before you cook up all the meatballs. Once the mixture is right, roll them into loosely packed balls. Brown them on all sides in a skillet and then let them simmer in your sauce to cook through.
CELEBRATE NATIONAL MEATBALL DAY AT BASTA PASTA
For more than 12 years, Basta Pasta has given Maryland diners delicious Italian food from local and fresh ingredients. Enjoy delicious pasta dishes, unlimited salad and breadsticks, and fine wine at one of our locations in Timonium, Fallston, Perry Hall, or Eldersburg. Contact us online or give us a call at the location-specific phone number listed here. Read our menu and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter! If you don’t feel like going out, order our signature crab cakes online and enjoy delicious Basta Pasta from home!