Spaghetti and Meatballs

Although spaghetti is traditionally Italian, the Americans invented Spaghetti and Meatballs. The combination of a savory tender meatball with a tomato sauce and pasta is hard to beat. Spaghetti and Meatballs is a classic American dish and is loved all across America. It has become a staple in many households and has so much potential for creativity and innovation. I wanted to make a lighter version of this dish, so I decided on chicken meatballs instead of the traditional meatballs made with beef or pork. Although these meatballs are made of chicken, they are equally as flavorsome and tender as the traditional meatball. The tomato sauce I made can be made in less than 30 minutes, making this recipe ideal for weeknights. The sweet and acidic sauce complements the chicken perfectly and provides a balance in flavor to the dish

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • For the meatballs
    • 3 tbs olive oil
    • 1 pound ground chicken thigh
    • 1 beaten egg
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 20-25 basil leaves, finely chopped
    • ½ cup breadcrumbs
    • ½ onion, finely chopped 
    • ¼ tsp chili flakes
    • ⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • For the Tomato Sauce
    • 2 tbs olive oil
    • 1 onion, finely chopped
    • 6 cloves garlic, minced
    • 3 tbs tomato paste
    • 16 oz can of crushed tomatoes
    • 1 tsp dried oregano
    • 2-3 sprigs of basil
    • ½ cup red wine
    • Parmigiano Reggiano rind(optional)
    • 1 ½ – 2 cups water
    • 3 tbs balsamic vinegar
    • 1 tb sugar(optional)
  • 1 lb. dried Spaghetti
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmigiano Reggiano to garnish
  • Chopped basil to ganish

Procedure:

  • For the sauce:
    • Cook the onions and garlic in a wide pan on medium heat until golden
    • Once golden, add the tomato paste and oregano and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes on medium high heat
    • Deglaze the pan with red wine and continue cooking until the wine has cooked off
    • Add the crushed tomatoes and water to the pan along with the sprigs of basil and parmesan rind
    • Simmer on medium low heat for 45-60 minutes, stirring intermittently
    • Finish with the balsamic vinegar and sugar(optional) as well as salt and pepper
  • For the meatballs:
    • Sweat the chopped onion, garlic and chili in 1 tbs olive oil until soft and translucent
    • Remove and add to a bowl with the basil, chicken, egg, breadcrumbs and cheese
    • Mix until well combined and set aside
    • Set a pan to medium high heat and add the remaining olive oil
    • Form the mixture into 1 inch balls and cook in the pan until brown on all sides(5-10 minutes) 
    • Once cooked, add the meatballs to the sauce
  • Boil the pasta in salted boiling water according to the package’s instructions and drain well
  • Add to the sauce and garnish with basil and Parmigiano Reggiano

Chef’s note:

  • Adding the parmesan rind isn’t necessary but it adds a subtle flavor. Many people throw the rind away when the parmesan but instead you should freeze it and save it for making sauces. Just add the rind when simmering and remove when you serve
  • You can use ground chicken breast, but I prefer using thighs for the extra fat content. The extra fat will ensure that the meatballs will be tender and juicy when cooked

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