Illegal Spaghetti & Meatballs

Illegal Spaghetti and Meatballs. 

Because in Italy these two should never be on the same plate, no joke - they’ll start screaming and yelling, But everywhere else and especially in New York, Spaghetti and Meatballs are a red sauce staple - here’s how I make mine, simple and delicious. 


8oz ground beef

8oz ground pork (if you’re not a pork eater double the beef, or use ground veal)

1oz of white bread, no crust

1oz (by weight) half and half

2 all spice berries, ground in a mortar & pestle, or between two napkins with a hammer

6 black pepper corns, or 3 twists of a pepper mill. 

1 TBS kosher salt (plus more for the pasta water)

1 TBS tomato paste

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4c extra virgin olive oil

1 large can whole peeled tomatoes

6 fresh roma style tomatoes. 

4oz freshly grated parmigiano reggiano 

1lb good quality spaghetti like deCecco


digital scale

mixing bowl

stock pot

heavy bottomed pot large enough to contain the sauce, meatballs and eventually pasta. 

cookie tray 

parchment paper


  1. Fill the stock pot with at least a gallon of water and set over high heat. 
  2. Combine the bread & the half and half, mix well until combined
  3. Add all of the ground meat, all spice, pepper, kosher salt and tomato paste - mix well until combined. 
  4. Form 1 oz balls, by weighing a piece of the mixture first and then rolling/forming the ball between your hands - they should be slightly smaller than gold balls. Set them onto the cookie sheet lined with parchment
  5. Heat your heavy bottomed pot over medium heat (250ºF) add the extra virgin olive oil and the meatballs, in batches if necessary - because they need about 1/2 an inch between each other. 
  6. brown on all sides, remove and set aside on the cookie tray (parchment removed). 
  7. Add the garlic to the oil, when fragrant add the crushed tomatoes and the fresh tomatoes. bring to a simmer
  8. Add the meatballs back in the the pot (now the sauce)
  9. Lower heat so that the occasional bubble breaks the surface. 
  10. When the water is boiling, add a a good handful of salt (about 1.5oz per gallon) 
  11. Dump the spaghetti in and give it a good stir - cook 2 minutes shy of the box’s instructions! 
  12. When you’re 2 minutes shy of the box’s instructions, add all the pasta to the sauce, and bring the heat back up - stirring continuously for, you guessed it, 2 minutes. 
  13. Add in the cheese and stir for for an additional 30 seconds. 
  14. The pasta and cheese will absorb a lot of liquid and thicken your sauce, if it’s too thick for your liking add some pasta water, and if you already dumped that, add some regular water that’s warm. 
  15. Serve with basil, parsley and/or a bottle of wine and some nice bread. Enjoy a dish that’s totally outlawed in Italy - but legal in all 50 states.