Grandma Maria’s Macaroni and Meatballs

Macaroni and meatballs is a staple in my family.  My grandmother (who was from Italy) lived downstairs in the house my grandfather built, and we lived upstairs.  Every Sunday morning, my brothers and I would wake up to the amazing smell of my grandmother’s (and subsequently mother’s) gravy (aka tomato sauce) simmering and meatballs frying.  Sunday breakfast for me was always fried meatballs on bread. To this day whenever I make meatballs and gravy I can’t help but smile thinking about my grandmother and mother. – Patty

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Grandma Maria’s Macaroni and Meatballs

  • Author: Patty
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4-6 servings 1x

Description

Macaroni and meatballs is a staple in my family.  My grandmother (who was from Italy) lived downstairs in the house my grandfather built, and we lived upstairs.  Every Sunday morning, my brothers and I would wake up to the amazing smell of my grandmother’s (and subsequently mother’s) gravy (aka tomato sauce) simmering and meatballs frying.  Sunday breakfast for me was always fried meatballs on bread. To this day whenever I make meatballs and gravy I can’t help but smile thinking about my grandmother and mother.


Scale

Ingredients

Tomato Sauce:

  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tbsp of Italian Parsley, chopped
  • 1 medium size yellow onion, chopped and diced
  • 1 to 2 tsp of red pepper flakes or ground cayenne pepper (omit if you don’t like things a little spicy)
  • 1 tsp of dried basil 
  • 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Grated Romano
  • 1 tsp of Kosher or Coarse Sea Salt
  • 2 tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/3 cup of red wine (optional)
  • 28 oz can of San Marzano tomatoes strained through a food mill
  • 6 oz can of tomato paste
  • 1 lb of macaroni such as rigatoni, you could also use spaghetti or bucatini if you prefer

Meatballs:

  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1 pound of ground pork
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups fresh or store-bought bread crumbs (unseasoned)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp of Kosher or Coarse Sea Salt
  • 3/4 cup grated Pecorino Grated Romano
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a deep saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion to the saucepan and cook over low heat until translucent (about 4 mins).
  3. Add the chopped garlic to the saucepan and cook for 1 min or until golden.
  4. Add red pepper flakes (or cayenne), dried basil, and salt to the saucepan. Mix with the garlic and onions.
  5. Add red wine (if using) and turn the heat to high. Let the red wine cook down and release the alcohol (about 2 mins).
  6. Lower the heat and add the tomato paste, stirring until all ingredients are mixed together and it forms a smooth paste.
  7. Add the San Marzano tomatoes to the saucepan with 1 cup of water and stir.
  8. Bring the tomato sauce to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer and stir in 1/4 cup Romano Cheese and 2 tbsp Italian Parsley.
  9. Let sauce simmer while you prepare the meatballs.
  10. In a large mixing bowl combine ground beef, ground pork, remaining garlic, breadcrumbs, 3/4 cup Romano Cheese, 1/2 cup Italian Parsley, egg, 1 tbsp of olive oil, salt and pepper. Use your hands to combine all ingredients but be sure not to overmix or you will dry out the meat. Shape the meat mixture into small balls, about the size of a walnut.
  11. In a large frying pan heat up the 1/4 cup of olive oil. Slip as many meatballs into the skillet as you can without crowding. Fry, turning as necessary, until golden brown on all sides (about 5-6 mins). Adjust the heat as the meatballs cook to prevent them from overbrowning. Remove the meatballs and repeat with any remaining meatballs.
  12. Add the meatballs to the simmering sauce and allow them to continue to cook all the way through in the tomato sauce.  Cook for a minimum of 30 mins, longer if you want a richer, more flavorful sauce.
  13. While the meatballs are simmering in the tomato sauce, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. 
  14. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook as advised on the packaging.
  15. Put a ladle full of tomato sauce in a bowl or deep serving dish, add pasta and meatballs, cover with tomato sauce, and sprinkle Parmesan Cheese over it. Si Mangia!

Notes

  • If you like a thinner tomato sauce you can add more water. Adding coarse salt like Kosher or Sea Salt to the water helps to flavor the pasta while cooking.
  • If you don’t have a food mill or are short on time you can use a can of pre-strained San Marzano tomatoes