How to make baked spaghetti and meatballs

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Spaghetti and meatballs may be an Italian classic, but the recipe below offers a play on tradition that's perfect for feeding a crowd. The dish can be made up until the baking step and then refrigerated or even frozen until ready to serve. The result is a dish you can prep in advance and reheat for an easy weeknight supper.
The key to ensuring this recipe's success is to take the spaghetti out when it's just a touch underdone. It will continue cooking in the oven, so when it's served, it will be perfectly al dente. Be sure to serve this dish with extra Parmesan on the side for sprinkling!
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Cooktop Cove
Baked spaghetti and meatballs
6
20 minutes
40 minutes
1 hour
2 slices sandwich bread
1/4 cup milk
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1 small white onion, grated
1 egg
1/4 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 32-ounce cans whole, peeled tomatoes
1 1/2 pounds spaghetti
6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Rip the sandwich bread into chunks and place in a mixing bowl. Pour the milk over the top and allow to stand for 5 minutes.
Break the bread up with your fingertips.
Add the beef, pork, onion, egg, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and salt to the bowl. Knead together until the mixture is combined but not overworked. Form into golfball-sized meatballs.
In a heavy-bottomed skillet or pot (like a Dutch oven), heat the olive oil over high heat. Fry the meatballs in batches, browning on all sides. Set aside on a plate and cover with foil. (The meatballs will not be cooked through at this stage.)
When all the meatballs have been cooked, lower the heat to medium-low and carefully pour off and discard any excess fat, leaving a thin film coating the bottom of the pan.
Add the onion and the salt. Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon to bring up the fond. (If the onion does not release enough moisture to bring up the fond, add about 2 tablespoons of water.)
Cook the onion until browned (about 10 minutes). Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and fry 1 minute, then add the tomatoes. Simmer for about 10 minutes, then purée until smooth using an immersion blender.
Cook the spaghetti for 2 minutes less than indicated on the package. Drain and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Add about half of the tomato sauce and toss to coat. Add the meatballs and toss once more.
Pour the mixture into a 9 by 13 casserole dish. Top with a thick layer of sauce and the mozzarella cheese.
Bake for 20 minutes, then broil until the casserole is browned and bubbly on top.
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