Amy’s Spaghetti and Meatballs

Amy’s Spaghetti and MeatballsSmiling Is My Favorite
Because it is the week before Christmas, you will have no problem finding Christmas-themed shows or movies available on your television. In some cases, they are streaming 24/7. Some folks are not a fan of this annual occurrence. Personally, I am okay with it.

There are a lot of good holiday movies out there (some not so good ones too…), and everyone has their favorite. People like my brother-in-law, are fans of the classics. For him, it’s not Christmas unless he is schnuggy on the sofa with warm Gingies watching It’s A Wonderful Life. For others it’s not Christmas unless Hans Gruber is falling off of Nakatomi Tower in Die Hard. Nothing says the holidays like blowing stuff up. Although, lately it seems that nothing says the holidays like StarWars.

For my father, nothing says the holidays like mischief. My dad loves little kids, and this time of year it is turned up a notch. Dad just gets a kick out of kids. It makes no difference if he is related to the child or not. If there is a little kid within range, Dad is going to interact with them. And, if said child is “up to something” so much the better, in his eyes. For that reason, while it may not be his actual favorite holiday movie, I always associate the movie Home Alone with my Dad. Here’s why.

Years ago, my parents were in town to pick me up from college, and for whatever reason Home Alone was the only thing on TV. (Don’t ask me why it was on in June, but it was.) While watching the movie, Dad was laughing so hard he had tears rolling down his face, and we were concerned about his oxygen intake. It got so out of hand that my mother and I were more entertained watching him watch the movie, than actually watching the movie. So, right or wrong, I will always think of Home Alone and Dad when I think of holiday movies.

If I had to choose my favorite, it would be Elf. Though I do enjoy a good A Christmas Story marathon, Elf is a must-watch to get into the Christmas spirit (other than singing loud for all to hear, and having a tickle fight). I have seen this movie hundreds of times and it never fails to make me laugh. The one-liners sustain me through the year.

Last night some friends of ours had a Buddy The Elf themed party, and it was great. While we didn’t make snow angels or snuggle, we did manage to eat the four basic food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corn and maple syrup. And, of course, there was spaghetti…

Amy’s Spaghetti and Meatballs
Yield 6  servings
I usually double the recipe for the meatballs when I make them, because I like my meatballs the size of tennis balls. If you prefer to make them smaller than that, just go with a single recipe.

For the Sauce
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ C white wine
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
Freshly ground black pepper

For the Meatballs
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground beef
1 cup fine, dry bread crumbs
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
1 large egg
1 teaspoon salt and more to taste
freshly ground black pepper

1 pound spaghetti
freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Make the sauce
Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a 4 to 5-quart pot over medium high heat. Stir in the onion and cook, stirring, until wilted (about 4 minutes). Add in the garlic, and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Pour in the wine and tomatoes, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the sauce is at a lively simmer. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes. Test the sauce and add salt and/or pepper as needed.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Make the meatballs
In a large bowl, combine the ground pork and beef. Sprinkle the bread crumbs, grated cheese, and garlic over the meat. Beat the egg with 1 teaspoon salt in a small bowl until blended. Pour over the meat mixture. Mix the ingredients with clean hands just until evenly blended. Don’t overmix.

Shape meatballs to your size preference, making sure they are all the same size. An ice cream scoop works well here. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and cook until internal temperature reaches 155 degrees, about 20-30 minutes.

When cooked, add the meatballs to the tomato sauce to keep warm.

Cook pasta according to package instructions.

Assemble the dish
Drain the pasta, and return it to the pot. Spoon in about 2 cups of the tomato sauce, tossing well until the pasta is coated with sauce.

Check the seasoning, and add salt and pepper if necessary.

Serve the pasta in warm bowls or piled high on a large, warm platter. Spoon a little more of the sauce over the pasta, and pass the remaining sauce separately.

Pass the meatballs family-style in a bowl, or top the bowls or platter of spaghetti with them. Pass the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano in a separate bowl for sprinkling.

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