My grandmother, Mattie Adcock, created this recipe. My grandmother died when I was a baby, but my mother often used to make these warm and comforting meatballs and spaghetti. It’s wonderful to re-create this beloved dish from my childhood.
This spaghetti is notable because of the absence of any kind of Italian seasonings. It has a very distinctive flavor that I really love, due to the browned flour and tomato juice gravy. My grandmother always served sweet pickles alongside this dish. I like rolls and salad with it.
Meat Balls and Spaghetti
1 lb. ground beef
12 crushed saltine crackers
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 quart tomato juice
Oil for frying
8 oz. dry spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
Gently mix meat, crackers, onion, and eggs, and add enough tomato juice to moisten crumbs (about 1/3-1/2 cup). Form into ping-pong sized balls. Dredge in flour.
Heat about 4 T. oil in a large, deep skillet over medium high heat. Place each meatball gently into the oil and fry until brown on one side, then turn to brown other sides. Don’t crowd the meatballs in the skillet, be sure there is a little room between them. If necessary, make two batches of meatballs adding more oil and letting the skillet return to medium high heat. Remove browned meatballs to a platter lined with paper towels. After all the meatballs are browned, pour off excess oil, leaving the browned bits in the bottom of the skillet. Add in the tomato juice, stirring to incorporate the drippings. Gently stir in the meatballs, then the cooked spaghetti, adding a couple spoonfuls of the pasta water (this will encourage the sauce to stick to the spaghetti). Heat the meatballs and spaghetti until gently boiling, then keep warm until time to serve.