Spaghetti and meatballs were without a doubt one of my late Papa Andy’s favorite meals of all time. Although he grew up in New Jersey the son of Slovakian immigrants, the Italian immigrant neighborhood was but a stone’s throw away and he grew up eating and loving the food so much he considered himself an honorary Italian. My grandma learned to perfect the dish and almost every memory I have of visiting them in Oklahoma included a giant pot of sauce bubbling away on the stove. My mom learned the recipe from her mother and this is my spin on the classic. While my grandma’s and mom’s recipe includes both meatballs and chunks of Italian sausage in the sauce, I opted to combine the 2 into one unbelievably flavorful meatball that is not only fabulous over pasta, zoodles or spaghetti squash, but makes a killer meatball sun the next day.
This is a no fail recipe that is worth every second of preparation and makes enough to feed a crowd or last the family several days. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs
For the Meatballs
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1 lb ground Italian sausage
- 1/4th cup freshly minced onion
- 1/4th cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2/3rd cup Italian breadcrumbs
- 1.5 tsp salt
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 2 eggs
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil
For the Sauce
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 tbsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- pinch of red pepper add more or less according to preference
- 6 oz can tomato paste
- 8 oz can tomato sauce
- 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
- 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups beef broth bone broth or chicken broth will also work in a pinch
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 parmesan rind optional but adds nice depth of flavor
- Combine ground beef, ground sausage and the next 8 ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Use your hand to gently mix the ingredients together until combined, being careful not to overwork the meat.
- Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a Dutch oven or heavy bottom pot with lid over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. *You should hear a sizzle as soon as the meatball touches the oil. If you don't it's not hot enough.*Carefully arrange meatballs in the pot, making sure to not to crowd them. This will probably take 2-3 batches. Sear one side of the meatballs for about 1 minute until browned. Flip meatballs to the other side and sear for an additional 45 seconds to 1 minutes. The meatballs should be nicely browned but not cooked through. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to remove the meatballs from the pan to a plate and repeat the process until all meatballs have been browned.
- Using the same pot, turn the heat down to medium and add in your chopped onions. Cook for 4-5 minutes until softened.
- Add in crushed garlic, Italian seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and cook for an additional 1 minute until garlic is fragrant.
- Add in the 6 oz can of tomato pasta and continue cooking for another minute or 2, stirring constantly.
- Stream in beef broth to deglaze the pan, then add in tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes. Add in bay leaf and parmesan rind and stir to combine.
- Gently nestle browned meatballs into the sauce and bring to a boil.
- Turn the heat down to low and simmer the sauce for about 35 minutes until meatballs are cooked through.
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