Nothing screams Ina Garten more than slightly condescending, quality adjectives. Most of the time they show up in the form of ingredients like “good olive oil” or “quality cocoa powder”, however “Real” Meatballs and Spaghetti take the cake with it right in the title. Don’t get me wrong, mostly I appreciate the gentle nudge to not use sh*tty mayonnaise with home made crab cakes. That could truly be a deal breaker. However, I think, in this case, we all would have assumed the meatballs were, in fact, real.
The meatballs came together pretty easily. I did end up making my own breadcrumbs, not because I wanted to but because quarantine. I also hand-crushed them (not a breadcrumb technique), again, not because I was feeling extra, but because I didn’t want to watch the food processor. I do not recommend this method.
My main critique of this dish is the amount of water it calls for. 3/4 cup of water with a pound of meat is a lot of water and I’m honestly not sure why we’re adding water in the first place. I doubled the recipe, did not double the water and it still felt like a lot. On top of that, it calls for the water to be warm. Meatballs are much easier to form when they’re cold and firm. The warm water only made things difficult, I would completely omit next time.
The sauce was straightforward and apparently I was too hungry to get a picture of the meatballs bubbling in their sauce bath. I ended up using fettuccini instead of spaghetti, because again, quarantine. I also added red pepper flakes because I can’t control myself.
If I’m staying in on a weekend night, dinner needs to be stellar and not feel like a Tuesday. This dish did not disappoint. The meatballs were tender and juicy while the sauce had that rich, Italian flavor that you get from the red wine deglazing with parsley. I had seconds, which is pretty rare, and I’m currently debating whether leftover spaghetti is a legit Sunday brunch.
Ranking: 9.5/10 – These were seriously delicious. I normally make spaghetti bolognese when I want pasta, but these meatballs have earned their spot in the rotation.
Dishes: High – there’s just a lot going on here.
Would make again: Yes