Sometimes I like to tease my hair and wear form-fitting dresses with full skirts. Sometimes I like to put a little cleavage on display and wear lipstick that’s a little too loud. Just like Cher’s character, Mrs. Flax, in the movie Mermaids. And sometimes, I like to make spaghetti and meatballs when I’m dressed this way. Below is my recipe.
Authentic Italian it is not. But nor does it try to be. This version is Italian American to its core and tastes best with a Rat Pack soundtrack. Or maybe some Louis Prima. It’s a dish as saucy as Rosemary Clooney and as meaty as Dean Martin. It’s what I imagine Joe DiMaggio ordered at Dominick’s after a lover’s quarrel with Marilyn. It’s the kind of meal my antiquated dreams are made of. I hope you enjoy it.
Ingredients for the sauce:
4 cans of crushed tomatoes
5 chopped garlic cloves
1 minced salted anchovy
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry white wine
salt to taste
Method for the sauce:
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan over low-medium heat. Add the garlic, anchovy, and red pepper flakes. Sauté for about 30 seconds then add the crushed tomatoes and wine. Bring to a near boil then let simmer for about an hour. Stir every so often to avoid the sauce sticking to the pan. Season to taste.
Ingredients for the meatballs:
500 grams ground veal (that’s approximately 1.1 pounds)
300 grams ground pork (0.66 pounds)
2 slices of toast that have been turned into breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano + some extra
3 minced garlic cloves
1 small onion, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 large egg
¼ cup fresh chopped flat leaf parsley + some extra
¼ cup fresh chopped basil + some extra
salt and pepper
Method for the meatballs:
Sauté the onion and garlic with the red pepper flakes. When they cool, add them to a bowl with everything else. Mix with your hands until everything has been thoroughly incorporated. Now wet your hands under the tap. Seriously. I find that having wet hands helps when rolling meatballs. Or even matzo balls, but I digress. Roll the meat into balls and set aside. Size wise, smaller is better though I always make some large ones as well–I’m greedy. Next, you need to brown the meatballs in a skillet. Don’t cook them all the way through. Once they’ve been browned, drop them into your simmering sauce and leave for a half hour.
Finally, make your spaghetti/linguine/whatever pasta your heart desires. Drain then mix with some sauce. Serve with meatballs and top with more cheese and fresh herbs.