Does anyone else find it difficult to spell restaurant? I always want to put the "au" in the last part of the word. I'm not sure why. It was always a 4th grade spelling word when I taught 4th grade. You'd think I would have learned it while grading all of those spelling tests, but it still confuses me.
Anyway...this meal is so easy that it is almost to embarrassing to post. Almost. We've been making spaghetti at our house for years because it is an easy go-to kind of meal, but about a year ago, I made one slight change that made our spaghetti nights about five times more awesome. I added store-bought meatballs to the sauce. The first time I made it that way, my dad, who loves spaghetti and meatballs and orders it at nearly every restaurant that offers it, exclaimed, "That was so good, girl! Those meatballs were better than [the name of a chain restaurant who is known for their spaghetti and meatballs that I will not name]!" He obviously had no idea that I had put frozen meatballs in the spaghetti, but it didn't matter. The spaghetti and meatballs were awesome.
Adding those frozen meatballs to the sauce as it heats up releases all the good stuff that is in them. There is a taste in Chef Boyardee's spaghetti sauce that I've always liked but had never been able to identify. I had tried putting cheese or more tomato sauce in my spaghetti sauce to try to recreate that soft, rounded flavor rather than the acidic one that many tomato-based pasta sauces can have, but nothing seemed to work. I know now that the secret is in the meatballs. When they release their flavors into the acidic spaghetti sauce I buy, the sauce's flavor just rounds right on out, and the whole dish becomes about five more kinds of flavorful in my mouth. I can sense your skepticism, but trust me - this is so easy that it's worth a try.
I must have been in some kind of a hurry when I wrote out this card, because I'm not even sure that it makes sense! Use the recipe at the end of the post! LoL!
This is all you need - just 4 ingredients. You need 1 lb ground chuck, 1 jar of spaghetti sauce (I like Bertolli's Vidalia Onion Spaghetti Sauce), spaghetti (I like the thin kind), and frozen, fully cooked homestyle meatballs (If you are a fan of Italian meatballs, you can get them. I'll allow it. But I've gotta say - I love the homestyle kind, and I am not a fan of the Italian kind. - I think somewhere, even though they are frozen, the ver fact that I said that I said I do not care for Italian-style meatballs made Giada De Laurentiis gasped at my distaste. Sorry, Giada!)
You need two pots - a big one and a medium one. You could use three, but why use an extra one that will eventually have to be washed when you can get away with two?
Step One: Fill the big pot about 1/2 full with well-salted water, and heat over med-high heat until it boils. If you have a pasta pot, you can use it. I just know that half of Food Network collectively cringes every time I use a pot that is not a pasta pot for pasta. Again, I apologize!
Step Two: Brown the ground chuck in the medium pot over medium heat. Break it up as it cooks.
Step Three: When the ground chuck has browned...
...transfer to paper towels and drain the grease from the pot.
Step Four: At this point, your water should be boiling (if not before). When it comes to a full rolling boil like this...
Apparently, I break the spaghetti in half as I put it in the pot. I realized this when I cooked at someone's house not long ago. When asked, I said that I don't break spaghetti in half before putting it in the pot, but when I got ready to put it in, I subconsciously started breaking it in half! We had a good laugh at my obliviousness to myself.
Step Five: Put the meatballs in the medium pot you used earlier. I usually put four meatballs per person. You can put as many or as few as you like.
Step Six: Cover the meatballs with spaghetti sauce.
Step Seven: For the sake of your kitchen's cleanliness - THIS STEP IS IMPORTANT! Cover the pot of meatballs and sauce! Cook on medium heat until it starts to bubble, and then turn it down to medium-low or low. Stir often so that the sauce doesn't burn on the bottom. I actually do not stir it. I just swirl the pot every-once-in-awhile.
Note: If you don't cover this pot, you will have splatter-dots of spaghetti sauce all over your backsplash, stove, counter, canisters, etc. Actually, even if you cover it, you will still get a few splatters every time you take the cover off to stir it...but not nearly as many as you will without a cover!
Step Eight: When the meatballs are cooked through (cut one in half and make sure it isn't frozen/cold in the middle), add the ground chuck.
Stir well, and continue cooking covered on medium-low or low heat just until heated through, about 2 minutes.
Step Nine: When the spaghetti is done to your liking (I like it cooked a little more than al dente. I like pasta more on the squishy side. I realize I have just caused panic attack among chefs and cooks all over...again. Do I need to apologize again?), strain the water from pasta. Then, put the pasta right back into the hot pot. This will make any excess water evaporate off so that it doesn't water down your sauce.
Tip: If you find that your spaghetti is going to be done too quickly, take the pot off the burner, and allow the spaghetti to continue cooking by sitting in the hot water. That'll slow the process down a bit.
...allow the sauce and pasta to cook together on medium heat for a minute or two just so the awesome flavors of the sauce can cook into the pasta, too.
Doesn't this make you want spaghetti tonight? Or at least make you reminiss about that scene in Lady and the Tramp? That was my favorite movie when I was a little girl...
The quality of this picture is terrible, but this is me at age three. If you look really closely, you can see Lady (from Lady and the Tramp) as a puppy climbing into her basket. I used to watch that movie over and over and over just like that...with my hands behind my back.We aren't sure why. The point is...was I cute or what?
I also feel that it is necessary to post a clip of that spaghetti scene from Lady and the Tramp, too, so you'll find it below and the recipe below the clip. Enjoy all. :)
Super Easy Restaurant-Style Spaghetti and Meatballs
Click here for printable version
1 lb. ground chuck
1/2 lb. spaghetti
1 jar spaghetti sauce
16 - 20 frozen, fully-cooked, homestyle meatballs (about 4 per person)
Fill the big pot about 1/2 full with well-salted water, and heat over med-high heat until it boils. Add spaghetti, and cook until it is cooked to your taste. Drain. [Caution: Do not let the spaghetti noodles get done too far ahead of the sauce or they will dry out!]
Meanwhile, in a medium pot, brown ground chuck over medium-high heat, breaking it up as it cooks. When the ground chuck has browned, transfer to paper towels, and drain the grease from the pot. In the same pot, add meatballs and cover with spaghetti sauce. Cover the pot, and cook on medium heat until it starts to bubble. Then, turn the heat down to medium-low or low. Stir often so that the sauce doesn't burn on the bottom. When the meatballs are cooked through, add the ground chuck. Stir well, and continue cooking covered on medium-low or low heat just until heated through, about 2 minutes.
Add the cooked spaghetti noodles. Stir and cook together on medium heat for about two minutes to infuse the flavors into the pasta.