Carmella Mezza’s Spaghetti and Meatballs

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Photo courtesy of Tennerra Winery.

Joe Mezza at Tennerra Winery in Sterling Heights shared his mother’s recipe for spaghetti and meatballs. It was a holiday dinner staple. In fact, for one Christmas, the family had matching aprons made with the recipe printed on them — upside down so it could be read while the apron was being worn for everyone except mom Carmella, who already knew the recipe by heart.

Carmella Mezza’s Spaghetti and Meatballs
2 pounds ground round
3 (12-ounce) cans Contadina tomato paste
Fresh sweet basil, chopped
2 or 3 links Italian fennel sausage
Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced or squeezed through a garlic press
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 pinch dried oregano
4 teaspoons salt or to taste
11 cups water

Brown ground meat and drain grease. Add remaining ingredients and simmer uncovered 3 or more hours, stirring occasionally.

Meatballs
2 pounds ground round
1 to 1 1/2 cups Progresso Italian Bread Crumbs
1 clove garlic, minced or squeezed through a press
2 or 3 tablespoons grated domestic Romano cheese
3 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, minced
Salt to taste
2 or 3 eggs

Place ground round in large bowl. Add breadcrumbs. Sprinkle with a little water to soften breadcrumbs. Add remaining ingredients. Mix to­gether and shape into balls. Drop into simmering spaghetti sauce about an hour after the sauce has begun simmering. Do not stir until the meatballs have been cooking for about 20 minutes, then gently stir the sauce occasionally.

To serve: Mix with pasta of your choice. Sprinkle with Romano cheese. (Parmesan is OK if you like a milder cheese.)

Recipe Note: Contadina tomato paste has the best flavor. For sausage, Rinaldi’s fennel is very good. Flat-leaf parsley is best because it has more flavor than curly. You may add several pieces of pork or pork chops. You may also add a can of crushed tomatoes. The Mezzas have a saying in their family: “Whoever passes the sauce must give it a stir so it does not stick.”

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