Coast Cooking

Love that spaghetti and meatballs

By JULIAN BRUNT

Special to the Sun Herald

Spaghetti and meatballs, Mmm! Mmm!
Spaghetti and meatballs, Mmm! Mmm!

Since I was a kid, the Italian-American spaghetti and meatballs has been one of my favorite comfort food dishes.

It isn't a complicated recipe, but it sure is easy to make a mess of. Some examples, you might ask.

Perhaps the first and foremost problem with the dish is making the meatballs too dense. They should be light and not too compact.

They can become too dense by the use of too much egg and the lack of breadcrumbs. You can use panko, or you can use white bread soaked in a little milk. You will be surprised at the difference it makes.

The next big mistake is to overcook the pasta. It should be firm, even if you do not care for the Italian al dente, please do not make it mush. To the Italian way of doing things, it is about the pasta, not the sauce, so keep the pasta firm and don't over sauce the dish.

Lastly is the sauce itself. The two main red sauces, in their simplest forms, are a fresh tomato sauce that has been barely cooked at all, and a long-cooked, hearty ragu, what the Italians would call ragu a la Bolognese. One last tip, cook the tomato sauce as long as you want, but after you add the meat, do not cook for more than one hour. The meat can become mealy and unpleasant.

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