When making pasta with meatballs in tomato sauce, I used to fry or broil my meatballs before adding them to my tomato sauce. But that’s ancient history. I’ve learned the smarter way by dropping the raw meatballs into the simmering tomato sauce and letting them cook there — slowly so that they release their flavors into the sauce while absorbing the flavors and moisture from the sauce.
And where did I learn that? From the most unlikely source — The Godfather. Yes, the movie. In one of the scenes, at the height of the mob wars while the Corleone league was camped out at Don Vito’s house, Clemenza, originally one of the the caporegimes, was cooking meatballs in tomato sauce and decided to teach Michael Corleone. Click here to watch the scene.
Of course, there was no detailed recipe. It’s a mobster movie, for crying out loud, not a cooking show. But you kinda read between the lines and fill in the blanks and you learn the technique. And that was the technique I used in making the spaghetti with meatballs in the archive.
Now this post is about a variation. Instead of using sausage meat, the meatballs were made with one part ground pork and one part bacon. Yes, equal parts. I tell, you it works to perfection.
The trick is to use belly bacon (the fat will act as binder and keep the meatballs super juicy) and to chop the bacon finely. So, let’s say you have half a kilo of ground pork. You’ll need an equal amount of bacon. You can hand chop the bacon but a food processor really does the job well at a fraction of the time. So, just dice the bacon the throw into the food processor until you see very, very small pieces. Combine the bacon with the ground pork, season, add whatever extras you like — chopped onion, oregano, basil, parsley, a bit of cayenne and paprika work wonders — mix and form into balls. Make your basic tomato sauce (with red wine if you like) and, while the sauce simmers, add the meatballs, cook over low heat and voila!