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Spaghetti and Meatballs

I was listening to the off menu podcast when James Acaster started going on about how he thought spaghetti and meatballs would feature more in his life when he was younger, and it made me realise that I had thought the same thing. There is a severe lack of spaghetti and meatballs in the world, despite what we have been led to believe by the movies and TV we have all watched throughout our lives. I had never even had spaghetti and meatballs until I started developing this recipe! These meatballs are tender, packed with flavour and they have a rich and unctuous tomato sauce. And as a bonus, you serve them with Spaghetti which makes for wonderful meal of delicious comfort food. The Italians don't serve meatballs with spaghetti, but I think they are missing a trick, spaghetti and meatballs are a match made in heaven!


1 slice of good quality bread, crust removed

100ml milk

500g beef mince

1/2 an onion, very finely chopped

pinch freshly grated nutmeg

small bunch of fresh parsley, very finely chopped

1 egg

1 tablespoon rapeseed oil

30g parmesan, finely grated

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

breadcrumbs to coat meatballs

1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

500g packet of spaghetti

more parmesan (to serve)

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cooking Time: 35 minutes

Serves: 4 People (Makes 20 - 25 chunky meatballs)


  1. Put the bread and milk in a saucepan and warm gently on a low heat, then mash up the bread with a fork until it is a pulp

  2. Get a mixing bowl and add the beef, onion, parsley, egg, olive oil, grated parmesan, nutmeg, the mashed bread (it should have soaked up the milk) and half of the salt and pepper

  3. Mix it all up with your hands until it is well combined, break up any chunkier bits of bread in the mix while you are at it

  4. Lightly oil a plate and roll the the mix into balls roughly the size of a ping pong ball, you should get 20 - 25 in total, place the balls on the oiled plate as you go. Roll the balls lightly in the breadcrumbs and put back on the plate

  5. You'll need to shallow fry the meatballs in a large heavy bottomed pan big enough to cook them all at once. Heat the pan to a high heat and add a liberal amount of oil, it should come up the sides about 5mm.

  6. Drop the meatballs gently in the pan and brown them all over, turn them carefully with a tongs while doing this as you don't want to break them up

  7. Once browned, turn the heat down to a low to medium heat and add the chopped tomatoes as well the other half of the salt and pepper

  8. Mix lightly, again, carefully so as not to break up the meatballs. You want them whole at the end of the process, and its very easy to break them up! You can add a small amount of chilli flakes at this point if you want it to have a bit of a kick, I think it is fine without

  9. Put a lid on the pan and simmer for about 25 minutes, it should be bubbling very slightly but not vigorously, if it looks too hot turn down the heat a little

  10. Every 5 minutes or so check that the sauce isn't sticking, if it does use a spoon to move everything around very gently so it doesn't stick, about halfway through cooking turn the meatballs over, you should also move them around a little bit (I move the ones in the middle of the pan to the outside and vice versa)

  11. While the meatballs are simmering, cook your spaghetti according to the packet instructions in a pan of salted water. The water should be quite salty, something like sea water. Don't worry, the pasta won't end up too salty as most of the salt will stay in the water

  12. The meatballs are done when the sauce is thick and oil has separated from the tomatoes

  13. Plate up with the spaghetti and grate over more parmesan to finish it off

  14. Serve and enjoy!

The meatball ingredients

The meatball mix

The rolled meatballs before coating in breadcrumbs

Browning the meatballs

Simmering the sauce

The perfectly cooked meatballs!

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