The Best Spaghetti and Meatballs


2 slices high-quality sandwich bread
1/3 cup buttermilk
3/4 pound (80 percent lean) ground beef
1/4 pound ground pork
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
2 TB minced fresh parsley
1 large egg yolk
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper
vegetable oil
4 cups Quick Tomato Sauce 
(recipe to follow)
1 pound spaghetti

How to make it

 Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot for the spaghetti.

Discard crusts from bread and tear into small pieces.  mash the bread pieces and buttermilk to a smooth paste in a large bowl, using a fork.

Add the beef, pork, Parmesan, parsley, yolk, garlic, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper to the mashed bread.  Stir the mixture gently until combined and uniform.  Gently form the mixture in 1 1/2 inch round meatballs, about 14.

Pour the oil into a 12-inch skillet until it measures 1/4 inch deep.  Heat over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add the meatballs in a single layer and cook until nicely browned on all sides, about 10 minutes.  Transfer the meatballs to a paper towel lined plate and discard the oil in the skillet. 

Place the skillet with any browned bits over medium heat and add the tomato sauce.  Bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits.  Reduce the heat to low and add the meatballs.  Continue to simmer, turning the meatballs occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes.

While the meatballs are simmering, add 1 tablespoon salt and the spaghetti to the boiling water.  Cook, stirring often, until the spaghetti tastes almost tender but is still firm to the bite.

Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, drain the spaghetti, and return it to the pot.  Stir in several large spoonfuls of the tomato sauce (without meatballs) and toss to coat.  Divide the pasta among several bowls.  Loosen the remaining sauce as needed with the reserved pasta cooking water.  Top each bowl with more tomato sauce and several meatballs.  

Serve, passing the Parmesan separately.

Quick Tomato Sauce
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
3 tablespoons minced fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon sugar

Cook the oil and garlic in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until fragrant but not brown, about 2 minutes.  Stir in the crushed and diced tomatoes with their juice.  Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Stir in the basil and sugar.  Season with salt to taste.  When tossing the sauce with pasta, add some of the pasta cooking water as needed to loosen the consistency of the sauce.