Spaghetti and Meatballs

I don’t sit and make a homemade sauce that often, because when I do, it’s an all day affair. I grew up in an Irish family, but we still have our own sauce recipe…and it’s sacred. It’s so good that my college ex-boyfriend begged for the recipe. I’ve shared it as part of a wedding shower gift. And now, I will share it with you.

This makes a giant amount of sauce. I actually don’t have a pot to fit all of it like my mother does. I have to use my two biggest pots once the meatballs go in. You will need some storage containers because it freezes fantastically.

Also, you may like to do things a little differently. My mom has put pork cutlets in it as well as italian sausage. I am a purist. Straight up meatballs, also per the family recipe. 🙂

Sauce (no, not gravy, no matter now much my in laws insist)

one onion, minced (I grate it but that is a variation)
2 tbsp. minced garlic
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp. dried oregano
3 tbsp. italian seasoning
1/2 c. grated Parmesan (not the fancy stuff, i’m talking the Kraft in the cannister stuff)
2 6 lb 9 oz cans Hunt’s tomato sauce
2 6 oz cans Hunt’s tomato paste

Start by drizzling olive oil into the bottom of a heavy stockpot. Add your onion and garlic, cover them with a thin layer of italian seasoning and oregano and saute until onion is translucent.

Add paste and combine thoroughly but do NOT burn. Pour in sauce and add remainder of seasoning, stir, and cover the top of the sauce with parmesan. Do not stir once parmesan is added.
Reduce heat to medium low. If you have a gas stove it is helpful to have a heat diffuser. If you have an electric stove, it will be very difficult for you to prevent a small amount of burnage on the very bottom of your pot. Have fun cleaning it. 🙁 It’s the price you have to pay.

Once parmesan cheese is in, let it sit so that the paste can melt in.  You’ll need to monitor it and stir it occasionally. Once the paste is melted and the sauce is starting to simmer lightly, it’s time to add the meatballs to the party.


1 “family pack” of ground beef. I get whatever is on sale as far as fat ratio. I’m not picky. I’ll take meatballs however I can get them.
1 egg
italian breadcrumbs to cover
italian seasoning
onion powder to taste (probably about 1/4-1/2 a tbsp)
garlic powder to taste (probably about 1/4-1/2 a tbsp)
splash of milk
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese

Put everything in a big bowl except the breadcrumbs and combine. Once that’s done, shake enough breadcrumbs over the top to cover the surface of the meat. Yes, that’s how I grew up measuring it. 🙂 Then combine. You’ll roll this mixture into small, 1-1.5 inch diameter meatballs and gently drop them in the simmering sauce. Do not drop them on top of each other. Once you’ve covered the surface area of your sauce, pick up the pan by the handles and swish it in a circular motion until the meatballs sink down a little and repeat your meatball rolling until you have them all into the sauce. Get your heat situated such that you are at a very light simmer because you CANNOT STIR THE SAUCE for a while once you put the meatballs in or else they will break apart on you. This is absolutely critical.
You’ll continue simmering the sauce until meatballs are cooked through. It will vary depending on the size of your sauce and the amount of meatballs but it will generally take around two hours.

Edit (8-22-2012):  over three years later, WOW! 🙂  But I had to add to this, in case anyone looks back here for the recipe.

I use this in several other recipes.  If you decide to make a big batch like I do, check out the recipes below: