Wednesday, February 20, 2013

4 Steps to the Best Ever Spaghetti and Meatballs

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I was planning to share a spaghetti and turkey meatball recipe with you today but after tasting the meatballs (or should I say...not tasting them) I decided it was better to hold off on that recipe for the time being.

So in its place I put together a list of steps I keep in mind when making spaghetti and meatballs.

Thankfully none of steps you'll find below have anything to do with turning ground turkey into a delicious meatball. I'm obviously no expert at that. They're about making the pasta, sauce and meatballs sing in harmony together when served on your plate!

Step # 1 - Make the Tomato Sauce Stick

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I don't know who told me to rinse my spaghetti under cold water after cooking it but I can tell you it's terrible advice.

Rinsing cooked pasta with water rinses away the starches. Without those the spaghetti turns into a water slide for the tomato sauce.

The result is a plateful of lightly pinkish spaghetti surrounded by a moat of red runny tomato sauce.

If you're wondering how to going to keep the spaghetti from sticking keep reading.

Step # 2 - Create a Light and Flavorful Meatball

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Pat, don't pack. That's the trick to making a light meatball. Scoop up a handful of meat and gently roll it in your palms to form a perfectly round meatball.

As for building flavor, I find a meatball that is fried in oil and browned on the outside is tastier than one that just cooks in the sauce.

My turkey meatballs are proof to that. They may have been flavorless as a rice cracker but you could pick up the richness of flavor developed on the outside because they were browned in the skillet. 

Step # 3 - Sauce the Spaghetti Perfectly

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Instead of rinsing the spaghetti under cold water after draining it, return it to the pot.

Add a couple big spoonful's of your cooked tomato sauce, set the heat to medium-high and toss until each piece of spaghetti is fully coated with sauce.

This allows the pasta to absorb the sauce so every strand of spaghetti is flavored. That's how the best Italian restaurants do it and that's the secret to perfectly sauced spaghetti!

Step # 4 - Reserve Cooking Water

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You read tip #1 where I suggested not rinsing your pasta and now you're faced with sticky spaghetti.

Let me give you the easy fix.

Before draining the pasta, ladle a cup of the pasta's cooking water into a measuring cup. Once the cooked pasta is drained add a tablespoon or two of the reserved cooking water in with the spaghetti. Stir it to loosens the strands. If it's still sticky, add more cooking water. There's starch in the cooking water so it doesn't create the water slide scenario I described in tip #1 where the sauce slides right off your pasta.

Everyone has their own way of preparing spaghetti and meatballs and I have a feeling you were either shaking your head while reading my tips or nodding in agreement. Either way I look forward to hearing your tips, thoughts and opinions in the comments.

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