Spaghetti and Meatballs

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People are always looking for homey food that recalls tastes they knew as a kid.

For the Meatballs:
1 cup (weight tk) day-old sourdough bread cubes, crust removed
1 cup (8 ounces/240 ml) milk
2 Tbsp. (1 ounce/30 ml) olive oil
1 cup minced red onions
1/2 lb. (8 ounces/228 grams) ground veal
1/2 lb. (8 ounces/228 grams) ground beef
1/2 lb. (8 ounces/228 grams) ground pork
1/4 lb. (4 ounces/114 grams) sweet Italian sausage, removed from casing and crumbled
3 Tbsp. dried Greek oregano
1/2 cup (2 ounces/56 grams) freshly grated Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup ((2 ounces/56 grams) freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
2 large eggs
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian flat leaf parsley leaves
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

For the Sauce:

1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup minced red onions
1/4 cup (2 ounces/60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbps. tomato paste
1/2 cup (4 ounces/120 ml) dry red wine
2 28-px cans whole peeled Italian plum tomatoes with juice and seeds, pureed
1 ttsp. kosher salt
1/2 to 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

1 1/2 lb. spaghetti

To make the meatballs: Place the bread and 1-cup milk in a medium-size bowl and set aside

Place a 10- to 12-inch skillet over medium high heat and when it is hot, add the olive oil. Add the onions and sauté until soft and golden, 5 to 7 minutes.

Place the veal, beef, pork and sausage in a large mixing bowl and using your hands, mix well. Add the oregano, cheeses, eggs, parsley and bread, one at a time, mixing until thoroughly combined between additions. Add the onions and mix again for 1 additional minute. Add the salt and pepper.

To make the sauce:  place a 7- 8-quart casserole over medium heat and when it is hot, add the olive oil. Add the garlic and onion and sauté until soft and golden, 5-7 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and sauté for 1 minute. Add the wine, tomatoes, salt and red pepper flakes and bring to a gentle boil.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

While the tomato sauce is cooking, form the meatballs. Take pieces of meat the size of a ping-pong ball and shape them in the palms of your hands to make small spheres.  Add them to the sauce and simmer on low heat until they are cooked throughout, 1 1/2 hours. (Cut into a meatball to make sure they are cooked through. Do not let the sauce boil once the meatballs are added, as they will dry out and the fat will separate from the meat.

Just prior to serving, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the spaghetti until al dente. Drain, transfer to a large serving bowl, and top with meatballs and sauce. Serve immediately.

Pro tips: In step 2 you should test the seasoning of the meat mixture, but you shouldn’t eat raw meat. Instead, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Pinch off a small amount of the meat mixture, roll it into a ball, and boil the small meatball until it is cooked through, 2 minutes. This will allow you to taste the true flavor of the meatball, and you can add more salt and pepper if you think it’s needed. Also, always keep your hands wet when rolling the meatballs so that the meat doesn’t stick to your hands.

Serving suggestions: If you prefer, you can prepare this dish without the spaghetti and simply serve the meatballs in the sauce with lots of good bread.