I know very few people who don’t like spaghetti with meatballs. And the common complaint of those that don’t is that the meatballs are tasteless. Well, when a cook knows how to make meatballs, they are never tasteless.
The meatballs for this pasta dish is a mixture of ground beef, spicy sausage meat and chorizo Pamplona. Very flavorful as the spiciness of the sausage meat and the smoky flavors of the chorizo Pamplona get mixed into the sauce while the meatballs simmer in them. The sauce itself is thick and chunky — made with fresh tomatoes, onions and garlic.
But is it not possible to make meatballs without sausages? Sure, it is — if you season the ground meat as though you were making sausages. That means a lot of spices to really make them tasty. What spices you need to add depends on the flavor you are aiming for. Sweet? Sweet and spicy? Garlicky? Herb-y? It’ll take a lot of experimenting to find the blend that pleases you most.
Meanwhile, I like the convenience of mixing together ground meat and sausage meat for my spaghetti with meatballs.
Spaghetti With Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
- 300 grams finely ground beef
- 300 grams spicy sausage (any variety although I don’t recommend sweet sausage)
- 150 grams Spanish chorizo (I used Pamplona but Bilbao will be wonderful too)
- 1/2 kilogram onions
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 kilogram plump juicy tomatoes
- 2 to 3 bell peppers
- 5 to 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 3/4 to 1 cup bone broth
- 4 sprigs fresh oregano leaves only
- pepper optional
- sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes
- 250 spaghetti cooked al dente
- grated cheese to serve
- Press the spicy sausages to force the meat off the casings. Discard the casings.
- Dice the chorizo and one onion. Put in the food processor and grind. You can do this by hand but Spanish chorizo that had been smoked and dried is too much for my chopping skills.
- In a bowl, mix together the ground beef, sausage meat, and processed chorizo and onion. No need to add salt and pepper. That comes later.
- Form into two-inch balls. Set aside.
- Dice then finely chop the garlic, the rest of the onions, bell peppers and tomatoes. I did this in a food processor for convenience.
- Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan. Add the chopped vegetables and cook over high heat, stirring often, until a bit softened.
- Add the oregano leaves. Pour in the broth. Season with salt and a bit of sugar. Pepper is optional because of the spicy sausage meat.
- Bring the sauce to the boil.
- Drop the meatballs into the boiling sauce. When all the meatballs are in and the sauce is boiling once more, lower the heat, cover and simmer for at least 45 minutes. Do not stir during the first 15 minutes of simmering to avoid breaking the meatballs. You can stir the sauce when the meatballs are firm and partially cooked. That usually takes about 15 minutes.
- After 45 minutes (an hour is better), the meatballs will have shrunk and the vegetables will have liquefied. If the sauce appears thin, turn up the heat to medium and boil the sauce, uncovered, until thickened. It’ll take anywhere from five to 10 minutes.
- Taste the sauce one last time and adjust the seasonings, if needed.
- To serve the spaghetti with meatballs, place the cooked pasta in shallow bowls, ladle sauce over them, top with meatballs and sprinkle with grated cheese.