I’m 3/8th Italian, so I grew up on lots and lots of spaghetti sauce. This is almost my Nana’s authentic Italian recipe. I just made a few changes. You see, my Nana/Grandma would put pork chops in the sauce and make ground beef meatballs. As a kid, I hated the pork chops in the sauce because they always got really overcooked and disgusting. So after a while, I came up with the idea to mix ground pork and ground beef for the meatballs and make them huge, so it doesn’t take forever forming little tiny meatballs. You can read my technique I use with the measuring cup below.
When I was growing up, my mom would make HUGE pots of spaghetti sauce and freeze them either in quart jars or freezer ziploc bags. Then when we had a busy night, all she had to do was heat them up and cook some noodles and it tasted just as good as the fresh and looked like she slaved away all day on the stove. She really made a ton of this in the fall when we had tomatoes coming out our ears. She would make tons and tons of sauce and fill up the downstairs freezer and we had spaghetti sauce for months after.
Below is the recipe for either the Slow Cooker or the stovetop. Both are delicious, although the slower cooker version is more tender and flavorful. But, it requires planning ahead. If you want the best of both worlds, just put it in an Instant Pot. I haven’t tried this particular recipe in it, but you should be able to cook it on the meat/stew setting and that would take 35 minutes and taste like it was cooking all day.
The instructions don’t say to brown the meatballs before placing them in the sauce. But you can if you want. When you brown them, you get delicious bits at the bottom of the pan, but it can make them tough and it makes them not soak up as much sauce, but they are more flavorful and don’t break apart as easily when you stir them.
This is a wonderful dish for a large amount of people because it’s easy to prepare ahead of time and simmer away while you are cleaning and getting ready for the party. Most all diets can eat this sauce, except people who can’t have nightshades and you can do different options for the noodles, like zoodles, gluten-free pasta or just plain, cheap noodles for those of you who can eat those.
You could totally use ground turkey in place of one or both the meats. I love ground turkey in spaghetti sauce. It has a light flavor and goes really well with the tomatoes. Another trick I like to do to get more veggies in our diet is to sneak veggies in the sauce. You can add all sorts of things to the sauce and blend them up in the sauce and all it does is make the sauce taste better. Just remember to take the meatballs out before you blend the sauce . . . Veggies I like to sneak in are butternut squash, leeks, carrots or zucchini. It really is good.
- 1 pound Ground Beef
- 1 pound Ground Pork
- 2 Eggs
- 2/3 Cup Italian Seasoned Whole Wheat Breadcrumbs
- ¾ Cup Shredded Fresh Parmesan
- 2 tsp Kosher Salt
- 2 Tbl Fresh Oregano, chopped (or 1 ½ teaspoons dried)
- 2 Tbl Fresh Parsley, chopped
Place the olive oil, onion, garlic, tomatoes, water, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a slow cooker and whisk together until combined. Turn heat on to high. Make the meatballs.
Place the ground beef, ground pork, eggs, breadcrumbs, parmesan, salt, and oregano in a large mixing bowl and mix together using your hands or a mixing spoon until the mixture is well combined. Use a ¼ cup measure to press the meat mixture into. Tap the measure on your work surface to remove meat. Use your hands to roll the ¼ cup of meat into a large ball. Repeat with remaining mixture until all of it is formed into balls. Place the meatballs carefully in the crock pot, covering with sauce. Cook on high for 3-4 hours, or until meatballs are fully cooked through and sauce is bubbling. Sprinkle meatballs with parsley before serving.
Place the olive oil in a large stockpot and turn the heat on to medium high. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds. Add the crushed tomatoes and water, stirring to combine. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to medium. Make the meatballs.
Place the ground beef, ground pork, eggs, breadcrumbs, parmesan, salt, and oregano in a large mixing bowl and mix together using your hands or a mixing spoon until the mixture is well combined. Use a ¼ cup measure to press the meat mixture into. Tap the measure on your work surface to remove meat. Use your hands to roll the ¼ cup of meat into a large ball. Repeat with remaining mixture until all of it is formed into balls. Place the meatballs carefully in the tomato sauce, making sure that the meatballs are fully submerged in sauce. Cover and let simmer for 30-40 minutes on medium heat, until meatballs are fully cooked through.
Sprinkle sauce with fresh parsley before serving.