I like to joke that the best Italian restaurant in Denver is in my house; while that is obviously a joke, these meatballs are no laughing matter! Moist, flavorful, delightful little balls o' meat (keep your head out of the gutter, folks) doused in a sweet and slightly spicy tomato sauce, served over pasta cooked until just al dente. Buon appetito, my friends!
1 pound ground beef or ground turkey (we actually prefer these with turkey)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
½ cup finely chopped yellow onion
¼ cup fine dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons spicy mustard (Creole mustard is best, if you have it)
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. dried parsley
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
1 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbs. hot sauce
2 tbs. unsalted butter
1 large can crushed tomatoes with no salt added
1 medium can diced tomatoes with no salt added
4 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup red wine (optional)
½ tbs. each dried basil, oregano, parsley, salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
16 oz. whole wheat pasta
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Begin with sauce. Heat large pot over medium heat. Add oil. Once heated, add minced garlic and red pepper. Allow to soften and become fragrant, 3-4 minutes, then add crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes. Stir in basil, parsley, oregano, salt, and pepper. Add wine, if you are using it. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cover.
While sauce simmers, prepare meatballs. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the meatballs except the butter. Mix well with your hands. Form into individual meatballs, about 1-inch in diameter.
In a large skillet, heat the butter over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook, turning until brown on all sides. Transfer meatballs to a glass or ceramic baking dish, then place on middle rack in oven and back for 20 minutes, until the meat is cooked through.