Franco’s Sicilian Meatballs and Spaghetti
2-lbs. lean ground beef, 93% lean
1 lb. lean ground pork
1 medium onion, finely diced
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
2 whole eggs, beaten
1 cup coarse ground breadcrumbs
1 cup whole milk
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. sweet basil
2 tsp. Frank Davis Sicilian Seasoning
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 small cans tomato paste
6 tomato-paste cans filled with water or chicken broth
2 tsp. sweet basil
2 tsp. Frank Davis Sicilian Seasoning
2 whole bay leaves
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 lbs. #4 spaghetti, cooked al dente
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
8 garlic flavored bread sticks
1 bottle Lambrusco red table wine
First you make your meatballs. Here are the steps:
In a large mixing bowl combine the ground beef and the ground pork until the two are uniformly blended. Then drop in the remaining ingredients and, with your hands, work everything together until you end up with a smooth meat mixture.
Now, keeping your hands wet so that the mixture doesnt stick to your fingers, begin rolling out the meatballs (you want them to be slightly larger than a golf ball). As each one is shaped, place it on a lightly greased shallow baking sheet.
When theyre all made, slide them into a 400-degree oven and bake them – turning them once – for about 20 minutes or until the meat begins to firm and brown slightly. This does two things – it helps hold the meatballs together while theyre cooking in the gravy, but more importantly it renders out most of the excess fat from the meat and keeps your gravy from being greasy.
While the meatballs are baking, its time to make your tomato gravy. If you follow these directions to the letter, it will be some of the best you ever had!
In a heavy 5-quart Dutch oven, heat the olive oil to medium high. Then drop in the chopped onions and the garlic and – stirring constantly – lightly sauté them together until they just soften (it is not necessary to brown the onions and you dont want the garlic to burn). About two to three minutes should do it.
When the onions and garlic are uniformly blended, add the tomato paste to the pot and rapidly stir it into the mix. Remember – you dont have to fry the tomato paste for eternity to make good red gravy. Actually, if you fry the paste for much longer than 5 or 6 minutes you will increase the acidity of the tomatoes and the gravy will be strong, harsh and bitter. You want it to come out light and sweet, so just cook it a minute or two until the paste, onions, garlic and olive oil are mixed well.
At this point, add the chicken broth or water to the tomato paste and stir again until the mixture is silky smooth. Keep in mind that the secret to making a gravy the right consistency is to use three cans of water for every one can of tomato paste.
When the sauce is thoroughly mixed, add the basil, the Frank Davis Sicilian Seasoning and the bay leaves and season the gravy with salt and pepper to your taste.
Now youre ready to drop in the meatballs – but just the meatballs: throw the pan drippings away! Gently place the meatballs into the pot with a spoon or a pair of tongs, being careful not to break them apart and position them so that theyre completely submerged in the gravy. All thats left now is to cover the pot and cook at a simmer for about two hours.
When youre ready to eat, cook the spaghetti in about a gallon and a half of rapidly boiling lightly salted water until it is al dente (firm, yet tender but not soft). When its ready, drain it thoroughly (dont rinse it!), toss it with about a cup or two of the tomato gravy to keep the strands from sticking together, sprinkle it liberally with the Parmesan cheese, and serve it piping hot with the meatballs!
I dont care where youve eaten meatballs and spaghetti before, I promise this is gonna be your all-time favorite!
For perfect spaghetti that doesnt stick together, cook it uncovered, stir it almost constantly, add about three or four tablespoons of olive oil to the water while it is boiling, and season the water with about three teaspoons of salt. Then when the spaghetti is done, drain it thoroughly in a pasta colander, immediately put it back into the pot you boiled it in, coat it lightly with some of the hot tomato gravy, and serve it piping hot.
Oh, just for the record you dont add sugar to an authentic Italian gravy. Prepare it properly and it will be light and naturally sweet.
I suggest you also serve up a couple of garlic bread sticks with each plate of meatballs and spaghetti you put on the table. A chilled glass Lambrusco will provide the crowning touch.
Chef Frank Davis