Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mrs. Rossitano's Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Little by little, I have somehow become a person who watches TV. It started with The Office, and then 30 Rock, and it just started snowballing. Parks and Rec, Up All Night, this new show Awake which is on right after the NBC comedies (and we haven't been able to turn off - so good!). Modern Family, Once Upon a Time, Smash! Oh, and GCB. Hi-larious. I tell myself it's OK because 1) I'm not flipping channels out of boredom and watching whatever's on, 2) I don't watch trashy reality TV (not until the Real Housewives of Disney becomes a reality, at least), and 3) I multitask. While the TV is on, I iron, I knit, I fold laundry, I flip through magazines looking for recipes. And once in a while, something happens that totally vindicates my decision to be a TV-watcher.

"This shouldn't work! How they met is disgusting! Their age difference is just weird! They shouldn't go together! But you know what else shouldn't go together? Veal, fennel, lemon, cheese and pork! that's right! Your meatballs! Lynn and Frank are just as good as your meatballs." -Liz Lemon

If you can watch that and not want to eat spaghetti and meatballs, you're a stronger person than I. So I wrote myself a little list, and the next time I was at the grocery store, I picked up ingredients to recreate Mrs. Rossitano's meatballs.


"These meatballs are good! Like, IKEA good! Is there parmesan in this? And lemon! And a little fennel?" Yes! It's all in there! And it is exactly as good as Liz Lemon makes it sound.

San Marzano Tomatoes

Mrs. Rossitano's Spaghetti and Meatballs
adapted from Cook's Illustrated

2 slices bread, torn into pieces
1/2 cup buttermilk, or 6 tablespoons plain yogurt thinned with 2 tablespoons milk
8 ounces ground pork
8 ounces ground veal
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons lemon zest (from one lemon)
vegetable oil

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-ounce can or 1 quart tomatoes, crushed
dried or fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste

1 pound spaghetti

In a small bowl, combine bread and buttermilk. Allow to soak for 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, combine pork, veal, Parmesan, egg yolk, salt, pepper, fennel seeds and lemon zest, and the bread/buttermilk mixture. Mix with your hands until well incorporated. With wet hands to prevent sticking, gently shape into approximate 1 1/2 inch balls, about 15-20 meatballs total. Be careful not to pack them too densely. In a large skillet, heat 1/4 inch of vegetable oil over medium high heat until shimmering. Add the meatballs and cook until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove meatballs to a paper towel-lined plate and discard remaining oil.

Cook spaghetti in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving some of the starchy pasta water.

In the same pan you used for the meatballs, heat olive oil over medium heat and saute garlic until golden but not brown, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and simmer until sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes. Season sauce with basil, salt and pepper. Nestle meatballs in sauce and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Remove meatballs to a plate and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Toss pasta with sauce in the pan, thinning sauce with pasta water if necessary. Top each serving of spaghetti with several meatballs, and serve with grated Parmesan for passing. If you're feeling fancy (or you have fresh basil on hand), garnish with basil chiffonade.


  1. We must be mind syncing this week. I watched that and decided during my spring break I needed to make some meatballs! Although I didn't use that recipe, my Italian grandmother would kill me if I betrayed her recipe. :)

    Also, TV sneaked into my life like that as well. It started with just Glee, Modern Family, and The Office but somehow all the shows that were right before it and after it worked their way in.

  2. hi, first time on your blog - I watched that last night and had to make em today too! i could not remember everything but i'm pretty close. This means that tonight I cooked pasta for the kids, beef stew, because that was the plan, and Rossitano's meatballs just because. Thanks for putting this up though i will write it down and do a better job next time!! i basically just had to wing it.