By Carmen Basile
1 pound lean ground beef (addition of lean Italian sausage meat optional)
1 large egg
1–2 slices water-soaked white bread
2/3 cup prepared Italian breadcrumbs*
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients thoroughly and shape into patties about the size of an egg. Add some water if mixture is too dry, or some extra breadcrumbs if too moist.
Over medium to medium-high heat, fry meatballs until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels.
Add meatballs to freshly made tomato sauce and simmer on low heat for 1/2 to 3/4 hour. Do not allow sauce to boil.
1 cup freshly grated breadcrumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup fresh minced Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Freshly ground pepper to taste
WHY SHOULD I SALT THE WATER
Salt is put into the pasta water to flavor the pasta. Without it, the pasta itself tastes bland, no matter what the sauce. There is no hard-and-fast rule about how much salt to put in your water, but most cooks suggest adding no less than 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt for every pound of pasta.
As a sauce simmers and develops character, it will naturally evaporate water. It’s always a good idea to reserve some of the salted pasta water. It’s perfect (better than plain water) for thinning out any pasta sauce that gets too thick.
IT’S NOT YOUR BISCUIT’S GRAVY
“Gravy” is what Italians call the sauce within which meat has been cooked. More elaborate meals were usually prepared on Sundays. Meatballs, sausages and other pieces of either pork and/or beef were simmered in the sauce. That sauce was mixed into the pasta course, the “primo piatto” or first dish. The meat, accompanied with salad and/or vegetables, was then served as the “secondo piatto” or second dish.