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Big Boy Meatballs and Spaghetti

Big Boy Meatballs and Spaghetti

These meatballs are so tender and flavorful, you shouldn't plan on having any leftovers.

  • Yield: About 10 large meatballs, 4 to 6 servings


  • 4 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into pieces
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck (85% lean)
  • 3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings
  • 2 ounces Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese, finely grated (about 1/2 cup, plus more for garnish if desired
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup minced garlic (about 12 cloves)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine
  • One 28-ounce can tomato puree
  • One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 2 tablespoons evaporated milk (optional)
  • 1 pound dried spaghetti, cooked until al dente, for serving


  • Place the bread and buttermilk in a small bowl and set aside for 10 minutes. Mash the bread with a fork to form a paste. Place the ground chuck, sausage, Parmesan, parsley, 2 tablespoons of the garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add the bread- buttermilk mixture and mix gently but thoroughly to combine. Shape into about 10 large meatballs (about 1/2 cup each) and refrigerate briefly to firm up, about 15 minutes.

  • In a large nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs, in batches if necessary, and cook until very well browned on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the browned meatballs to a large pot.

  • Add the onion and crushed red pepper to the oil remaining in the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Pour in the wine and cook, scraping any browned bits from the pan, until reduced by half, 1 or 2 minutes. Add the tomato puree, crushed tomatoes, bay leaves, and water and bring the sauce to a simmer.

  • Carefully transfer the hot tomato sauce to the pot with the meatballs. Place the pot over medium-high heat and bring the sauce to a gentle boil so as not to disturb the meatballs. Reduce the heat so that the sauce just simmers and cook until the sauce is thick and the meatballs are tender, 45 to 60 minutes, stirring occasionally once the meatballs have firmed up and have begun floating in the sauce. Stir in the basil and oregano and season the sauce with salt to taste. If the sauce seems too acidic, add the evaporated milk and cook for a few minutes longer. Remove the bay leaves. Serve the meatballs and sauce ladled over the cooked spaghetti, garnished with additional

  • Parmesan if desired.