Monday, July 14, 2014

Homemade Friday on a Monday: Spaghetti and Meatballs for the Birthday Boy

So I survived the weekend.  The weekend of turning 33 and frantic cleaning and last-minute preparation for my son's 6th birthday Pokemon party, and Germany in the World Cup Final and Germany winning the World Cup Final and making biscuits and gravy for my son's birthday breakfast yesterday and homemade spaghetti and meatballs for his birthday dinner.  (He had a hot dog and grapes for lunch.  There's really only so much cooking I can do in one day.)

And I even survived my daughter being up from 2-4:30 last night (this morning?).

After party clean-up the house is still relatively clean, so that's refreshing.  I do have tons of laundry to put up that I shoved in a closet before people got here, but other than that I'm in pretty good shape.

I thought I'd share my spaghetti and meatball recipe with you today.  I know it's not Friday, and therefore not time for a Homemade Friday post, but I figured you'd forgive me.

This is not a quick meal, obviously.  The sauce (or 'Sunday Gravy' if you will) needs to cook at least 45 minutes.  As my dad says, you can eat it after 45 minutes, but it's done after 2 hours.

The meatballs take time, too.  The mixture has to be combined, then formed into meatballs.  Those have to be browned in a skillet, then finished in the sauce.

It's an immensely satisfying meal, even if you have to work it during the first half of the World Cup Final, running back and forth from the kitchen to the living room every time you hear your husband yell out.

My spaghetti and meatballs isn't nearly as good as my parents', but really, that's how it goes, right?  The sauce never tastes exactly right, the meatballs aren't as tender, but everyone was satisfied.  And next week for the July birthday celebration at my parents' house we get to have it again - the right way.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti Sauce

olive oil
onions if you like - but I'm usually too lazy to cut them up
3 quarts of tomato juice (or two large, 46 oz cans)
24 oz tomato paste
italian seasoning

In a large pot or dutch oven heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.  Once hot, add onions if using and saute until soft.  Add a tablespoon or more of garlic and saute until lightly brown - not dark.  If it gets dark it becomes bitter.

Add tomato juice and paste.  I never measure my italian seasoning, which is probably why my sauce never tastes exactly right.  I add a palm full.  And then usually more later.  Add a tablespoon or two of sugar, just to bring out the sauce a bit, then a tablespoon or more of salt.  I usually season it a bit, then let it cook and taste it for seasoning later on in the process.

Bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes to 2 hours with a lid cracked on top.


3 lbs ground beef - lean - 94/6
1 lb italian sausage
oregano, basil, parsley - or italian seasoning
1 diced onion
1 tbsp minced garlic
5 slices of bread, or bread crumbs
grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
olive oil to brown

Mix meat, onions, garlic and seasoning (a palm full - or more) together.  If using bread, soak in warm water to soften, then add to mixture.  If using breadcrumbs, mix with meat mixture.

Add egg and parmesan.  Mix all together with your hands and form into meatballs - large meatballs, about the size of a small baseball.  Or between a golf ball and baseball.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Brown meatballs on all sides, a few at a time, turning often so they don't burn.

It's best to brown them all and transfer to a platter.  When all are browned, put them in a pot of spaghetti sauce, already hot, and cook in sauce for 45 minutes.

You can freeze them either before or after cooking in sauce.  I froze half of the meatballs after browning them - mainly because they all wouldn't fit in my pot.  This recipe made about 35 meatballs.

Once sauce is about 30 minutes from being done, start a large pot of water heating on the stove.  Once it boils, add salt - a couple of palm fulls, depending on how much water.  Add the pasta.  I usually let it cook for a few minutes, then taste and add salt as needed.  Cook until it still has a little bite to it.  Don't let it get mushy!  Strain pasta and add back to pot.  To keep the noodles from sticking together, it helps to add a bit of sauce to them and stir them around.

Serve a heaping plate full with at least two meatballs and a mountain of parmesan cheese.


Here's my mom's original, handwritten meatball recipe.  The woman has amazing handwriting for a lefty!  Probably because she was taught by nuns:

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