Slow Cooker Spaghetti and Meatballs
Using a mixture of uncased sausage and ground beef is the trick to achieving tender, flavorful meatballs without a lot of work or extra ingredients. These three-inch meatballs are oversize, so they can stay moist and tender after cooking for an extended period. This way, they also fit in the slow cooker in one layer, which helps them cook evenly. Choose any kind of turkey sausage you like best; sweet or hot Italian are both great choices. (Pork will work too, but will make the sauce a little oily.) Fear not, the spaghetti is cooked separately, so you can serve these meatballs over any long noodle for a traditional take, or spoon them over polenta or tuck them into hero rolls.
- Serves: 5 persons
- ¼cup tomato paste
- 3tablespoons dry red wine
- 1cup panko bread crumbs
- 1cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley (about 1/2 bunch)
- 4ounces grated Parmesan (1 to 1 1/4 cups), plus more for serving
- ½medium onion, coarsely grated (about 1/3 cup)
- 2large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2tablespoons whole milk
- 2garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2teaspoons red wine vinegar
- ½to 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 1pound bulk fresh sweet or hot Italian turkey sausage
- 1pound ground beef (10 to 20 percent fat)
- 1(28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 2sprigs fresh basil, plus more for serving
- 1pound dried spaghetti, for serving
Step 1In a 6- to 8-quart slow cooker, whisk together the tomato paste and red wine. In a bowl, stir together the panko, parsley, Parmesan, grated onion, eggs, milk, garlic, vinegar and red-pepper flakes. Season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and a generous amount of black pepper.
Step 2Add the sausage and ground beef to the panko mixture, and gently mix using your hands just until all the ingredients are uniformly combined. (Don’t overmix, or you’ll end up with tough meatballs.) Form the mixture into 7 (3-inch) gently packed meatballs, and place them in the slow cooker. (They should fit snugly in one layer.) Pour the crushed tomatoes all over the top of the meatballs, then add the basil sprigs to the slow cooker. Cover, and cook on low for 4 hours.
Step 3When ready to serve, cook the spaghetti according to the package directions in boiling, salted water and drain. Increase the slow cooker heat to high. Using a slotted spoon, remove the meatballs to a bowl. Discard the basil sprigs from the sauce. If there is more oil on the surface of the sauce than you’d like, use a ladle to skim it off and discard it. Add the drained pasta to the sauce and toss to coat the pasta evenly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the meatballs back to the slow cooker and stir gently to combine. Serve the spaghetti and meatballs with more grated Parmesan and torn basil leaves for topping.