I cannot lay claim to these beauties. They are the creation of Aida Mollenkamp whose long line of Italian family members can attest to what makes or breaks a good meatball. The genius lies in the fennel-garlic mash—a mixture of fennel seeds, garlic, salt, and pepper chopped so fine that it permeates every ragged crag of the meatball.
Clearly her recipe does not call for soy milk, (that substitution is made so the Professor can eat them) and her recipe also has about 1/4 cup of grated parmesan added to the mix. So if you are in a house where dairy flows freely, go ahead and make those substitutions/additions.
For the Meatballs:
- 4 ounces stale country bread, crust removed and torn into large pieces (about 2 cups packed)
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1/2 medium sweet onion, minced
- 6 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
For the Sauce:
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, small dice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 pound spaghetti
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
For the Meatballs:
- Place torn bread in a small bowl and cover with beaten eggs. (Push bread down so it all gets moistened.) Let soak until most of the egg is absorbed and bread is broken down, about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place garlic and fennel seeds on a cutting board and sprinkle all of the pepper and salt on top. Chop mixture until it is a rough paste (it will resemble cornmeal).
- Heat oven to 375°F. Place meats in a large bowl and mix until evenly combined, about 3 minutes. Add bread and any remaining egg and mix until bread is fully incorporated (break up any bread chunks). Add onion and mix well. Add garlic-fennel paste, parsley, oregano, and mix until very evenly combined.
- Gather mixture into round balls, about 2 inches in diameter, and place on a baking sheet. Bake until browned and firm, about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile prepare tomato sauce: Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and garlic and season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender. Add tomato paste and cook 1 minute, stirring.
- Add crushed tomatoes (juices and all) and bay leaf. Stir to combine and lower heat to low. Cover and cook until sauce thickens slightly, about 30 minutes. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Once meatballs are done, transfer them to sauce and let simmer while pasta cooks.
- While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package instructions and drain. Return to pot.
- Pour meatballs and sauce over pasta and gently toss to combine. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese if desired.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 428Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 121mgSodium: 560mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 29g