This is one of my favorite dishes to make and it’s a crowd pleaser too! I use a combination of extra lean ground beef and mild Italian sausage and I omit the traditional bread crumbs/egg step but add stuffing the meatballs with cheese! It makes meatballs fun again! If your not a beef or pork eater, it’s pretty easy to find turkey Italian sausage in most super markets these days. Season with these spices and roll turkey Italian sausage into meatballs. (you may want to add bread crumbs and egg back in if you’re using turkey sausage).
I use these meatballs to make Meatball Subs for my teenager too. It’s one of her favorite foods and I’d much rather make them homemade than have her eat them out. This way I can control the quality and freshness of the ingredients.
For the cheese, I use fresh mozzarella to stuff the meatballs with. I’ve used other cheeses like semi soft goat cheese and even blue cheese for a truly rich flavor. Whatever cheese you use make sure it’s a creamy semi hard cheese and never shredded. Or just skip the cheese and you will still have delicious but easy, homemade meatballs!
- 1.5 lb extra lean ground beef (96/4)
- 4 mild italian sausage links
- fresh mozzarella (soaked in water)
- 1 tbs dried oregano
- 1 tbs garlic powder
- 2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 tsp fennel seed
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 1 medium size white onion (diced)
- 4-6 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
- 1 lb spaghetti
- 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 can of fire roasted tomatoes
- parmesan cheese
- slice cheese into 2 in cubes to stuff into meatballs. get pasta water on stove over high heat and cover.
- For the meatballs: in a large bowl add in 1 lb of beef (reserve some for sauce), remove sausage from casing and add to bowl, add in dried herbs and seasoning and mix it all together until well combined
- roll palm size balls in hand. then make a well in middle with thumb, push in cheese, press the top closed and roll again. set aside. repeat until done. make about 12 meatballs.
- heat a large pan over medium high heat. drizzle with olive oil. once pan is hot add meatballs. do not over crowd them. do it in batches if your pan is not big enough. you want to sear the outsides and then remove from pan. (they will finish cooking in the sauce) once they have a nice crust on the outside remove from pan and set aside.
- in the same pan, add in onion. season with salt and pepper. turn the heat down to medium medium low and let the onions sweat. scrape the bottom of the pan to help release the bits left in pan from the meatballs.
- check pasta water and drop pasta into boiling water. don’t forget to salt the water! drop garlic into pan with onions, mix together and then add reserved ground beef, season with salt & pepper. turn heat up again to medium high and let the meat brown. about 5 minutes. check pasta and drain when it’s done. should have a nice bite to it not too chewy and not too mushy.
- once meat is browned, add in crushed tomatoes and fire roasted tomatoes. add meatballs back to pan. turn heat down to low and let the sauce simmer for 10 – 15 minutes.
- drain pasta. remove meatballs from sauce, pour pasta into sauce and coat the spaghetti in the sauce. pour spaghetti out onto a platter and add stuffed meatballs on top. garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Serve with your favorite glass of wine! It’s a great dish to serve at a dinner party or for your starving teenagers like mine!