Chef Frank's pro pasta noodles.

How to Chef-ify Spaghetti and Meatballs

Chef Frank turns simple pasta pro with three-meat meatballs and noodles from scratch in this Epicurious video.

Epicurious captures an amateur, home cook, pro chef from ICE and food scientist's approach to American staples in its four levels series. On this episode, Chef Frank Proto shares simple life advice: "If you really love people, you make fresh pasta."

Chef Frank's typical Sunday dinner consists of meatballs combining beef, pork and veal that he mechanically tenderizes with a grinder. He hand blends four eggs with the ground meat rather than milk, plus Pecorino Romano for saltiness and sharpness. Chef Frank advises fresh grinding pepper and using an ice cream scoop to portion uniform meatballs quickly.

The secret to chef-level sauce: making everything in one pot. The meatball juices flavor the oil while onions, basil and orange add a little sweetness. Try a simple pro technique by using a sachet to combine these sweeteners and a bay leaf. Chef Frank uses canned, peeled, crushed tomatoes and tomato paste for a thick sauce that keeps the meatballs tender.

He says making a small batch of fresh pasta isn't as hard as home cooks might think and that the water you boil the noodles in should be sea salty. Watch him demo here and get the complete recipe below. Plus, Chef Frank shares three homemade pastas on Mental Floss.


Spaghetti and Meatballs

Yields 4-6 servings


For the meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups plain breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano, plus some for garnish
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch basil
  • 1 small strip orange rind
  • 2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes (Pastene brand if possible)
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

For the pasta:

  • 11 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • Pinch of salt


  1. To assemble, add all the ground meats, chopped garlic, eggs, breadcrumbs and cheese to a bowl. Season well with salt and pepper and mix by hand.
  2. Scoop out uniform balls with an ice cream scoop.
  3. Heat the oil for the sauce recipe in a large sauce pot. In a single layer, add the meatballs and brown on all sides (you may need to do this in batches). Remove the browned meatballs to a plate and reserve for later.
  4. Add the onions to the pot that you browned the meatballs in and sweat. When the onions start to brown lightly, add the garlic.
  5. Remove the basil leaves from the stem and reserve. Tie the basil stems, orange rind and bay leaf together with butchers twine and add to the onions.
  6. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and two cans of water to the pot. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Bring the tomatoes to a boil, then add the meatballs.
  8. Bring back to a boil, then lower to a simmer and let cook uncovered for 40-60 minutes.
  9. Mix all pasta ingredients together and knead into a smooth dough. Let rest for 1 hour. Roll to desired shape.
  10. Bring a large pot of water, about 2 gallons, to a boil. Add salt until the water is sea salty. Have the meatball and sauce hot.
  11. Add about 2 cups of sauce to a large sauté pan.
  12. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain and toss with the sauce and some torn basil leaves in the sauté pan just to dress.
  13. Portion pasta onto a plate, top with 2-3 meatballs and a little more sauce. Serve with grated Pecorino Romano.

Learn the pro approach to all your favorite recipes in Culinary Arts.

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