Better meatballs

This Feb. 3, 2017 photo shows meatballs with spaghetti in New York. This dish is from a recipe by Sara Moulton. (Sara Moulton via AP)

Start to finish: 2 hours, 15 minutes (1 hour, 15 minutes active)

Servings: 6

3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 pound ground beef (85 percent lean)

1/2 pound ground pork

1/2 pound ground veal

2 ounces prosciutto, finely chopped

2 ounces finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus extra for garnish

1 large egg

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 teaspoons minced garlic

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

3 tablespoons vegetable oil plus extra for cooking the little patty

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup red wine

Marinara Sauce (recipe below) or 5 cups store-bought marinara

1 pound spaghetti

Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

In the bowl of a stand mixer, soak the bread crumbs in the milk for 20 minutes. Add the ground beef, pork, veal, prosciutto, Parmigiano-Reggiano, egg, tomato paste, garlic, salt and pepper, and using a paddle attachment, beat the mixture for 1 minute or until it is very well mixed. (Note: If you don’t have a stand mixer, just mix all the ingredients well with your hands for about 3 minutes.)

Pinch off a little bit of the meat mixture, form it into a patty and in a small skillet saute it until it is cooked through. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if desired. Scoop out the mixture, preferably using a 1-ounce ice cream scoop and roll into balls. (If you don’t have an ice cream scoop, roll the meat into walnut-size balls.) Chill for 30 minutes.

In a large skillet heat half the oil over medium-high heat. Toss half the meatballs in the flour, shaking off the excess and add them to the hot oil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the meatballs, shaking the pan and turning them gently until they are browned on several sides. Transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat the procedure with the remaining flour, oil and meatballs.

Add the wine to the skillet and simmer it, scraping up the brown bits, until it is reduced by half. In a large saucepan combine the meatballs with the marinara and the reduced wine. Bring the liquid just up to a boil, turn it down to a simmer and simmer it gently, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.

Speedy Marinara Sauce

Makes: About 5 cups

4 large garlic cloves, smashed

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 (28-ounce) cans plum tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted), chopped

Kosher salt

In an unheated medium saucepan combine the garlic and the oil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, turning over the garlic several times, until it is just golden, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and a hefty pinch of salt, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and cook at a brisk simmer until the sauce is reduced to about 5 cups, 20 to 25 minutes. Discard the garlic. Season with salt to taste.

Nutrition information per serving of the meatballs: 739 calories; 223 calories from fat; 25 g fat (8 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 128 mg cholesterol; 874 mg sodium; 78 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 43 g protein.

Nutrition information per serving of the sauce: 628 calories; 346 calories from fat; 38 g fat (5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 493 mg sodium; 48 g carbohydrate; 18 g fiber; 27 g sugar; 10 g protein.

Sara Moulton, Associated Press