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Bobby Flay's Spaghetti and Meatballs


Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs, how to make them, and who makes them better, are always highly contested topics. Flay might not have won this Throwdown challenge, but his recipe won us over. Simple and delicious, it's great for kids and adults — and adults who want to feel like kids again.

Adapted from "Bobby Flay's Throwdown!" by Bobby Flay, Stephanie Banyas and Miriam Garron.


Click here to see 15 Classic Comforting Foods


For the meatballs:

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 12 ounces ground beef chuck
  • 4 ounces ground veal
  • 4 ounces ground pork
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • About 6 tablespoons plain dry bread crumbs

For the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium Spanish onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Two 28-ounce cans plum tomatoes and juices, pureed in a blender
  • 1 small cubanelle (or cubano or banana) chile
  • 8 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1 pound spaghetti, cooked al dente
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese


For the meatballs:

Heat the 2 table­spoons oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until soft, about 1½ minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Whisk the eggs, 3 tablespoons cold water, and the parsley together in a large bowl. Add the garlic, beef, veal, pork, cheese, and salt and pepper and gently mix together until combined. Add the bread crumbs, a table­spoon at a time, until the mixture just holds together. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 day.

Form the meat mixture into 1½-inch balls. Heat the remaining 1 cup oil in a large sauté pan over high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the meatballs and fry until golden brown on all sides. Drain on a baking sheet lined with paper towels.

For the sauce:

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes, and cook until the onion is soft and the garlic is lightly golden brown on both sides, 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the pureed tomatoes. Make a slit in the side of the cubanelle chile with a paring knife, and add it and the parsley sprigs to the sauce. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the meatballs to the sauce, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer until the meat­balls have cooked through and the sauce is thickened, about 20 minutes.

To serve, put the spaghetti on a platter and top with the meatballs (use a slotted spoon). Stir the chopped basil into the tomato sauce, and ladle some of the sauce over the spaghetti and meatballs. Top with lots of Parmesan and garnish with basil.