1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. ground pork
1/2 lb. ground veal
1 Tbs. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced, plus 1 clove garlic, lightly smashed
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup finely grated imported Locatelli Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano (or half and half); more for serving
1-1/2 cups plain dry breadcrumbs, preferably 4C brand
1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 cup olive oil or vegetable oil; more as needed
1 lb. dried spaghetti
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Start making the marinara sauce. While it’s simmering, make the meatballs.
Break up the ground meat into a large bowl. Sprinkle on the salt, pepper, minced garlic, eggs, grated cheese, breadcrumbs, 1-1/2 cups water, and parsley. Mix with your hands until everything is nicely distributed, but don’t overmix. Shape into twelve meatballs by gently scooping up a handful of meat and rolling it into a nice even ball; each meatball should weigh about 4 oz. and be about 2-1/2 inches in diameter.
In a 10-inch nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil and the lightly smashed garlic clove over medium heat. (If your skillet is larger than 10 inches, you’ll need to add more oil; there should be enough to come about halfway up the sides of the meatballs.) When the garlic is lightly browned, the oil should be hot enough to start frying. (Remove the garlic from the oil once it becomes fully browned.) Gently set six of the meatballs in the oil and fry until they’re lightly browned on the bottom half, 5 to 6 min. Carefully turn them over using a slotted spatula and brown the other side. Drain the meatballs on a few paper towels to soak up excess oil. Fry the remaining six meatballs the same way.
When the marinara has finished its initial simmer and you’ve seasoned it, add the meatballs to the simmering sauce and cover the pot. Simmer them together for 30 min. to let the sauce permeate the meatballs and the meat flavor infuse the sauce.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When the meatballs and sauce have been simmering for about 20 min., add the spaghetti to the boiling water and boil until it’s just about al dente.
When the spaghetti is done, drain it and return it to the pot it was cooked in. Add the chopped fresh basil and a couple of ladlefuls of the marinara sauce to the spaghetti. Put the pot over high heat and, with a wooden spoon or tongs, constantly toss the pasta until each piece is coated with sauce, about 1 min. Transfer to serving bowls and ladle more sauce over the spaghetti, along with two to three meatballs (or transfer the meatballs to a serving platter and set it on the table). Serve with grated cheese.