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Eat This Now: Spaghetti and Meatwads

Riddle me this: Is it not an incontrovertible fact that every time one watches “Aqua Teen Hunger Force,” the sight of Meatwad immediately makes one crave round chunks of meat, despite the stomach-churning thoughts of all the possible cat hair and carpet fiber tangled therein? The other day I was watching ATHF, and I became overcome with the urge to eat meatballs. I love meatballs, but I had never actually made any from scratch. So I figured I’d take my innate knowledge if Italian food from working at an Italian grocery store during my formative years and cobble some sort of recipe together. And, not to toot my own horn, but this is possibly the best thing I’ve ever made. Ever.

This recipe is beyond laborious, but it’s fairly easy (I had most of the ingredients in my house), and if you make it for someone you love (or want to bone, at the very least) you will be immediately imbued with +10,000 brownie points. You’ll mess up every dish in your kitchen, but after you taste it, you won’t even care. Seriously guys, this shit is AWESOME.

First step. Make this recipe for pomodoro sauce. You could make some other tomato sauce if you wanted to, but this recipe is consistently the best tomato sauce I’ve ever made. So throw this together and get it bubbling away on the stove (but don’t add the basil yet) while you make your awesome-balls.

Before you even touch the meat, mix together 2 slices of white bread (or one white sub roll) with the crusts removed and torn into small pieces with 1/2 a cup of milk in a bowl. Take a fork and mush and chop up the chunks of bread in the milk until they form the saddest, whitest paste you’ve ever seen. Are you depressed now? Then it’s just right. Now just let it hang out and let the bread soak up all the milk while you get the rest of your ingredients together.

Now sautée half of a small white onion, chopped finely with 2-3 cloves of garlic chopped fine in a bit of olive oil until the onions are softened and translucent. Then throw them in the bottom of a big mixing bowl and set the pan aside for later.

To the big mixing bowl, you’ll also want to add 1 pound of ground beef (the fattier the meat, the moister the meatball) and 1 pound of ground pork. Then throw in your herbs: 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, 1 tablespoon of fresh basil, chopped fine and 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh parsley. Then add 1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesan. You can use that canned bullshit, but the lovely soft tendrils of the fresh cheese taste and look infinitely better than the flavorless sawdust that wheezes out of the plastic can with every shake. Don’t do it.

Then add 2 eggs, your pale bread paste mix of sadness, and the super secret special ingredient that I learned from the old Greek dude I worked with who made the best meatballs ever (until now): 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. I’m sure you’re all, “Whaaaa?” But trust me, it somehow elevates these lowly balls of meat into some orgasmic otherworldly stratosphere. If you didn’t know what was in the meatballs, you’d never be able to guess, but it adds a little depth and richness, and accentuates the sweetness of the ground pork perfectly. Plus you can be all obnoxious with your guests and be like, “Can you guess the secret ingredient??”

Finally add a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper and mix the meat with your hands (yes, your hands. Nothing else will do) thoroughly, squeezing the meat through your fingers until it forms a uniform mixture of vaguely paste-y consistency. Alas! How do you know if you’ve seasoned your meatballs enough? There’s nothing so lowly as a flavorless ball, so how do you make sure that it’s seasoned properly? That’s what the onion pan that you set aside is for! You didn’t forget it and put it in the sink, did you? Didn’t think so. Just take a bit of meat, form it into a flat little patty and cook it up real quick to make sure that it tastes awesome. At this point, you will proceed to have orgasm #1. Just wait. It gets so much better.

Now’s the time to roll your meatballs. Don’t be a ritard like I was and try to roll them and place them straightaway in the hot pan. Roll all of your meatballs out at the same time and put them on a plate or a pan or something and then, once you have them all rolled out, you can sautée them in a hot pan with a bit of olive oil in it. I like little balls, but if you like larger ones, feel free to make them as big as you like. Then sautée your meatballs until they are browned on both sides and plunk them into your pan of bubbling tomato sauce. When you put the meatballs into the sauce, you also want to add the torn basil (from the pomodoro sauce recipe) so it gets nice and wilted in the sauce. You don’t want the meatballs to cook all the way while sautéeing, or else they’ll get tough. They’ll finish cooking as they simmer in the sauce (which takes about 20 minutes).

If you have more meatballs than you have room in your pan of sauce, put them on a baking sheet sprayed with Pam and bake in a 400° oven for about 20 minutes or until they’re glistening and browned on the top. You can freeze these, or make swedish meatballs, or make meatball sandwiches, or put them on toothpicks and have a fun party. Either way.

As for the pasta, if you don’t know how to cook that, then you should just leave. Italians like to eat shorter pastas, like ziti or orchiette with their meaty sauces, but you can totally make this with spaghetti if you like. I used cavatappi, a short, dense pasta that looks like an elongated corkscrew, and it is awesome.

Seriously folks, make these and put them in your face. Every time you watch ATHF from now on, you will start salivating. Mmmmm.

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In other news, one of our dear Nerdist readers, Alec, made the Princess Leia cinnamon rolls and was kind enough to send me a few pictures! What’s in those? Cashews? Macaroni? Either way, they look beautiful and amazing. Go Alec!

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Visit my awesome blog, follow me on Twitter @gaggingtowards, or check out my Kickstarter project to raise money for my book about grown-up picky eating. .

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  1. This meatwads recipe looks great, the picture even needs good enough to eat. It’s speaking to me and the voice of a meatball sounds good.

  2. ian says:

    just made this for dinner, its really really good.

  3. Patti says:

    Ok, I’ll leave it in, then. I will let you know if I like it, or if Mr. Picky *hubby* does, too. Writing down ingredients for both sauce and meatballs. I will head out to the store to get anything I don’t have on hand. Thanks!

  4. Rachael Oehring says:

    Yeah, leave everything in the sauce, the slices of garlic just kind of melt and meld and sweeten in with the sauce, so it’s not too strong. Let me know how you like it!

  5. Patti says:

    Ok, so you use sliced garlic and fresh basil leaves in the pomodoro sauce. That sounds great, but do I take the garlic and basil out before serving the sauce? Also, the meatballs sound great, too. I think I told you on twitter that eventually, I wanna serve the meatballs and pomodoro sauce over the potato gnocchi that is posted over at Node. I may try making this today, but with different noodles until I have potatoes in the house again. *or until such time that I feel like Suzy Homemaker* 😉

  6. Morgan says:

    I made Spagetti and Meatwads for dinner last night! The meatballs were delicious!

  7. Alec says:

    Yay my pic made it ! ive hit the big times lol thank you Rachael! ill make the ATHF spaghetti and send a pic lol thanks again!

  8. I will now never be able to cook meatballs without doing the Meatwad voice. Cheers, Rachel!

    (Not that doing voices while making meatballs is old hat for me. Made Mama Scorsese’s meatball recipe once and had to fight the urge to recite all her dialogue from “Goodfellas” while they simmered.)

  9. Annie says:

    OK, this looks good. But how could this possibly be better than the infamous Louisiana chicken stuff you made in a godforsaken Westwood kitchen circa 1998?

  10. Rachael Oehring says:

    Oh god. I want that.

  11. I just made meatballs the other day! I’ll have to do them again and try out the cinnamon and the parmesan. Also, whenever I do these I tend to say fuck the pasta. I just make larger meatballs and make a red wine sauce (1/2 cup each of red wine & beef stock, dash of balsamic vinegar, pinch of salt & sugar, reduce & thicken with corn starch if needed) and eat ’em straight up.

  12. dragoncores says:

    first off just for some fun FIRSTIES
    Now to the point. this sound really good but meatwad in it not so much. htats would be goign over bored and plus well he rolls every where and lord knows what he has in him. I mean ewwww