Spaghetti and meatballs might need a trial separation. Traditionally, pasta is served as a first course and meat as a second course.
Our Sunday dinners with Grandma always observed this practice: cook the meat in the tomato “gravy” (sauce) and ladle the meat-flavored tomato sauce over the pasta. Then, serve the meat on a platter accompanied by a salad, as I’ve recalled before.
My father and I recreated this last night. In a saucepan, he started the tomato sauce with garlic in oil and diced tomatoes (imported from Italy). While he browned the sausages in a large saute pan, I prepared the meatballs, according to Grandma’s instructions:
- 1 egg per pound of meat, in this case lean ground beef
- handful of parsley (clench hand on a bunch, grabbing leaves within fist, then twist to rip off bottom part of stems. Then remove leaves from stems and finely dice with French chef nice)
- Italian breadcrumbs (around 1/3 of a cup per pound of meat, this is really to preference)
Rinse your hands in cold water before kneading the meatball ingredients together in a large bowl. Re-rinse hands occasionally in cold water to keep the meat from getting warm from friction as you evenly combine and then shape the meatballs. To shape, pinch together a golf-ball sized amount and roll in one palm with pressed fingers of opposite hands. The meatballs should be smoothed by the wet hands.
While I shaped the meatballs, Dad moved the browned sausages to tomato sauce. I then used the same saute pan to brown the meatballs in canola oil. No need to cook them through – just brown them mostly all the way around and pick them up one by one with tongs to place in the tomato gravy. Add a little water to the gravy to smooth it out. Simmer on very low for at least 45 minutes.
Cook the pasta according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, move the meat out of the gravy and onto a platter. Drain the pasta in a colander in the sink. Place pasta in a large bowl and ladle on the gravy. Serve in pasta bowls. Enjoy.
Now, for the second course, toss a salad of greens with sliced tomatoes and sweet onion. Dress with olive oil and a little vinegar. Serve the meat and salad together. Again, enjoy!