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Spaghetti and Meatballs

Introduction & method

Spaghetti with meatballs seems to be hugely popular in some parts of the US, but for some reason is almost unheard of here in the UK. This is a strange thing because meatballs with spaghetti and a rich tomato sauce turns out to be absolutely delicious and very easy make.

Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe

Make the Tomato Sauce

Like most sauces, this one benefits from a long cooking time, so we'll start with this. Crush/mince the garlic. Peel and finely chop the onion. Shred the basil. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat in a large frying pan. Pop a piece of chopped onion in and when it starts sizzling add the rest of the onion. Cook that for about five minutes until soft and maybe slightly browned, then add the garlic. After a minute or two, add the chopped tomatoes, stir well and add the passata or tomato puree. Now add the chilli, oregano and basil, stir well and simmer for about half an hour. Now taste it. If it is bitter/acidic, stir in a teaspoon of sugar. If that doesn't fix it, add another one. Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) can also be used in very small quantities (like a quarter or half a teaspoon), but be careful because too much can leave a nasty taste. Add salt and black pepper to taste. If you prefer a smooth sauce, whizz it in a blender. You can cook the sauce for longer if you like, but add water if needed. Set aside until needed.

Make the Meatballs

If you prefer, you can use all beef or all pork, but I find the mixture of meats gives a more subtle flavour. Mix together the milk and the breadcrumbs. Chop the parsley then mix all meatball ingredients together in a large bowl, but reserve 2 tbsp of the cheese for later. Take 40 grams (1.4 ounces) of the mixture and form it into a ball. Repeat this until you've used all the filling. Put the meatballs in the fridge to firm up for at least one hour.

Cook the Meatballs

Preheat oven to 160°C (320°F) for a fan/convection oven, 180°C (356°F) conventional, gas 4. Transfer the sauce to an ovenproof roasting dish and put it in the oven. Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a large frying pan and toss the meatballs in, shaking frequently to get them browned all over. 

Place the meatballs on top of the sauce and cover with the reserved grated Parmesan. Bake for about 20 minutes, but check the meatballs are cooked with a digital thermometer. The internal temperature should be 71°C (160°F).

Cook the Spaghetti and Serve

When you put the sauce and meatballs in the oven, bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Check your spaghetti manufacturer's advice for the cooking time. When cooked, drain the spaghetti, twirl some on a warmed plate, pour a bit of sauce over it and some meatballs. Grate a bit more Parmesan over it and garnish with bay leaves.

The video above is from the Keef Cooks YouTube channel. Click here to see the video recipe of Spaghetti and Meatballs on YouTube.


Ingredients & Info

 2 cans (400 gram/14 ounce) canned tomatoes
 1 medium onion
 2 cloves garlic
 small handful fresh basil
 1 tsp oregano
 200 grams tomato passata or 2 tbsp tomato puree
 1-2 tsp sugar
 half a tsp red chilli flakes
  salt & pepper to taste
 225 grams minced pork
 225 grams minced beef
 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
 2 tbsp milk
 small handful flat leave parsley
 1 beef stock cube (dry)
 1 egg
 4 tbsp grated Parmesan or Grana Padano
 half a tsp salt
 half a tsp ground black pepper


75 grams (2½ ounces) spaghetti per person. Olive oil for sautéeing.

US Customary/Imperial

Makes 16 -20 meatballs
Prep time: 15 minutes.
Chilling time: 1 hour.
Cooking time: 40 minutes.
Total time: 1 hour 55 minutes.