It may not be found very often in Italy but this classic Italian-American pasta dish is a true comfort food.
- 2 (28-ounce) cans italian plum tomatoes, with their liquid
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 pound dry spaghetti
- ½ pound ground pork
- ½ pound ground beef
- 1 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
- ¼ cup parsley, chopped
- 2 clove garlic, peeled & minced
- 1 large egg
- all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- salt & pepper, as needed
Pass the tomatoes and their liquid through a food mill fitted with the fine disc. Heat ¼ cup olive oil in a 4 to 5-quart pot over medium high heat. Stir in the onion and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 4 minutes. Pour in the tomatoes, crushed red pepper and bay leaves, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the sauce is at a lively simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, crumble the pork and beef into a mixing bowl. Sprinkle the bread crumbs, ⅓ cup grated cheese, the parsley, and garlic over the meat. Beat the egg with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper in a small bowl until blended. Pour over the meat mixture. Mix the ingredients with clean hands just until evenly blended. Don’t over-mix. Shape the meat mixture into 1-½ inch balls.
Dredge the meatballs in the flour until lightly but evenly coated. Heat ¼ cup olive oil and the vegetable oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Slip as many meatballs into the skillet as will fit without crowding. Fry, turning as necessary, until golden brown on all sides, about 6 minutes. Adjust the heat as the meatballs cook to prevent them from over-browning. Remove the meatballs, and repeat if necessary with the remaining meatballs.
Add the browned meatballs to the tomato sauce and cook, stirring gently with a wooden spoon, until no trace of pink remains at the center of the meatballs, about 30 minutes.
Stir the spaghetti into the boiling water. Return to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook the pasta, semi-covered, stirring occasionally, until done, about 8 minutes.
Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Spoon in about 2 cups of the tomato sauce, tossing well until the pasta is coated with sauce. Remove from the heat and toss in remaining 2/3 cup grated cheese. Check the seasoning, and add salt and pepper if necessary. Serve the pasta in warm bowls or piled high on a large warm platter. Spoon a little more of the sauce over the pasta, and pass the remaining sauce separately. Pass the meatballs family-style in a bowl, or top the bowls or platter of spaghetti with them. Garnish with extra Parmesan if you like.