Wednesday, February 1, 2012

My Mother in Law's Amazing Spaghetti

Okay, so this recipe just makes me smile! I mean, what spells comfort food like a nice big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs? When I first moved up to Philly with my DH, (over a decade ago...which is crazy) his mother made this for one my first meals with his family. And let me tell ya, I was in love...with the spaghetti. For me, growing up down south, we got our spaghetti sauce from a jar. Yeah, it tasted fine, but seriously, spaghetti from a jar? It doesn't hold a candle to sauce slow simmered on the stove with large homemade meatballs and hot italian sausage. SO, needless to say, if my dear mother in law ever invites us for spaghetti, we don't have to think twice :) She was so gracious as to share her recipe with me (not like Marie on Everybody Loves Raymond, she's a sweetheart) so I make it somewhat often for my family. DH says it tastes just like hers, but for some reason mine isn't as dark, but it's sure delicious! You can portion it out and freeze for later if you'd like also. Still tastes amazing!

1 lb. Hot Italian Sausage
For Meatballs:
1 lb. ground beef
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. minced onion (I use the dehydrated in the spice aisle)
1 T. fresh chopped parsley or 1 tsp. dried
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 milk

For Sauce
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 large can tomato sauce
2 - 6 oz. cans tomato paste
1 T. dried oregano
1 T. dried basil
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced

1. Mix ground beef, bread crumbs milk, minced onion, egg, parsley, and Parmesan together in a bowl. Use your hands to mix together, they are your best tool. Try not to over mix. You want the meat to sort of be the consistency of play-doh. Add a little more milk if it's too dry, or breadcrumbs if it's too wet. (A tip I got from one of my Italian friends:) when my meatballs were turning out dry sometimes.) Sometimes you can make more meatballs if you prefer, but just adjust ingredients accordingly.

2. Roll out the meatballs between 1 and 2 inches in diameter with your hands.

3. This step isn't a must, but I've found it really makes a difference. Place the meatballs on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and freeze. This can be done the night before, or even the week before. Or you can make a large batch of meatballs to use multiple times and just pull them out when you're ready to make sauce. For this instance, I just froze them at lunch time (I was home that day) and put them in the sauce when I was ready. I've found that the frozen meatballs stay together and don't fall apart in the sauce as much as the fresh ones. A few times I ended up with a meat sauce. :(.

4. When you are ready to start cooking, put the tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, and tomato paste in a large pot. Add the oregano, basil, bay leaf and garlic. Stir to combine. Cook over medium to medium high heat until in begins to boil. be careful, because boiling tomato sauce is brutal. It makes big pops and if you're not careful it'll the bubbles will pop right in your face. Ouch! I know from experience...

5. While you're waiting for the sauce to boil, cut the sausage link in 1 1/2 inch sections and brown in a skillet. You are not trying to cook them through, just brown the casings.

6. Remove to a paper towel to drain. Use another paper towel to pat them dry. Just trying to get rid of the excess oil.

7. Once the tomato sauce begins to boil, carefully put in the meatballs and then the sausage. Remember, the boiling sauce bubbles and pops so don't get hurt :)!

Put a lid on but leave a crack to vent. Cook on low for 3 hours. Stirring occasionally to keep the sauce from burning on the bottom. (Every 15 minutes or so) Be sure to stir gently so the meatballs don't break apart, just lightly scraping the bottom.
Serve over your favorite pasta and enjoy the best sauce recipe ever!

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