Spaghetti and Meatballs

Preparation info

  • Makes


    Main-Course Servings
    • Difficulty


Appears in

Get in There and Cook: A Master Class for the Starter Chef

Get in There and Cook

By Richard Sax

Published 1997

  • About

Self-important gourmands will sneer that “there’s no such dish in Italy.” True, but admit it—don’t you love spaghetti and meatballs? These are tasty, and this is a heartier dish than most of the pastas in this collection.



  • ½ pound ground beef chuck, well chilled
  • ½ pound ground pork, well chilled (or use a total of 1 pound chuck)
  • ½ cup soft fresh bread crumbs
  • cup milk
  • ¼ cup well-beaten egg (about large eggs)
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • #1½ teaspoons salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste (be generous)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 2½ to 3 cups Basic Chunky Tomato Sauce or any tomato sauce
  • 1 pound dried spaghetti
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving


    1. To make the meatballs: Mix together the ground meats until thoroughly blended. Stir together the bread crumbs and milk in a small bowl; let stand a few minutes for the crumbs to soften. Combine the beaten egg, cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper to taste in a medium bowl. Turn the bread crumbs into a strainer in the sink; press gently with your fingertips to squeeze out as much milk as possible. Stir the moistened crumbs into the egg mixture; then add the mixed meats. With your fingers, combine the meat with the bread crumb mixture without mashing or squeezing.
    2. Place a sheet of wax paper on a dinner plate. Form meatballs with the meat mixture, using your palms to roll them evenly to slightly less than 1 inch in diameter. Place the meatballs on the wax paper as you form them (you should finish with a total of 30).
    3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add half of the garlic to the skillet and let it sizzle gently until golden, about 3 minutes. Discard the garlic. Place half of the meatballs in the hot skillet without crowding; cook without stirring until golden brown on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Adjust the heat if necessary; the meat should sizzle, but gently. Turn the meatballs over with tongs and cook until brown on that side, about 2 minutes longer. Now cook the meatballs for 2 or 3 minutes longer, rolling them around in the skillet with a wooden spoon or turning them with the tongs, so they are browned all over. As the meatballs are done, remove them with a slotted spoon to a plate. Repeat with the remaining oil, garlic, and meatballs.
    4. With a paper towel, blot the fat from the skillet. Add the tomato sauce to the skillet and bring to a simmer, using a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits in the bottom of the pan into the sauce. Return the meatballs to the sauce. Cover the skillet and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn the meatballs over with tongs; simmer for 5 minutes longer. Cut into one meatball; they’re done when the center of the meat is no longer pink.
    5. Shortly before serving time, bring a large pot of water to a full rolling boil for the pasta. Add salt, then slip the spaghetti into the water. Boil until just al dente, firm but tender, usually 10 to 12 minutes. Meanwhile, if necessary, reheat the meatballs and sauce in the skillet. Drain the spaghetti well, then divide among 4 warmed pasta bowls. Stir the parsley and some freshly ground pepper into the sauce. Spoon the meatballs and sauce over the spaghetti, dividing evenly. Serve immediately, passing freshly grated Parmesan and a pepper mill at the table.