Meatballs for spaghetti

I have no reason to think that mine are anything other than average, but this is what I do….


  • 1.5kg mince, I like a combination of beef, pork and veal, if available.
  • c. 5 slices white bread, no crusts, soaked in milk and squeezed to remove excess moisture
  • finely chopped onion
  • finely chopped garlic
  • finely chopped lemon rind (no white)
  • a little Worcestershire sauce
  • a few drops of Tabasco
  • freshly ground pepper
  • parsley finely chopped, if available

Mix all these together thoroughly. Hands does the best job. Now divide up into small meatballs. Roll in seasoned flour, or shake in a bag of seasoned flour.

There are probably various ways you can proceed next, depending on whether you want a clean or dirty sauce. I want dirty.

Heat a large deep frying pan and add a generous amount of ghee. You are using ghee because it has a high burning point. A bit before it starts smoking, gently place the meatballs into the fat. Don’t crowd the pan. One reason you made the meatballs small is because you want a lot of surface area relative to meat as this will make the taste of them better as they interact with both fat, and later, sauce.  I’m happy for these to get a caramelised, burnt aspect to them, this is what makes the sauce dirty and dirty tastes good. Really…good. Gently turn them at some point. You don’t need them to cook right through, this will come later. So, take the first lot off with a slotted spoon, add more ghee, do the next lot and so on.

Don’t wash the pan, you are going to use it for the sauce.


  • 5 tins tomatoes pureed
  • 1 or 2 cups of white wine
  • finely chopped onion and garlic

I like the sauce for this to be smooth, hence I puree the tomatoes. If there is a lot of ghee left in the pan, drain it off, but don’t clean the pan! Add a generous amount of olive oil, heat gently until it is able to sizzle and add finely chopped onion and garlic. Fry on LOW heat for a minute or two and then add quite a lot of dry white wine, maybe a cup or two. Raise heat to high now, bring to the boil, and while it is reducing to practically nothing, deglaze the pan. Dirty and yummy. Add the pureed tomato and stir, bring to the boil and then down to a simmer for maybe one hour. Then gently add the meatballs and simmer for at least another thirty minutes.

Not surprisingly, best prepared the day before and left to sit in the fridge overnight.


Next day, prepare the spaghetti, reheat the sauce, grate lots of parmesan and this is what will happen. A table of people who had been making a lot of noise go quiet. There is a particular sort of quiet, I think, that you only find at the dinner table and it signifies blissful contentment.

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