One of the first meals many home cooks attempt is spaghetti and meatballs. It’s simple yet comforting, and whether we grew up eating it from a can or homemade, the dish has a rightful place in our childhood memories. I first learned to twirl my fork with spaghetti from the can, and somewhere along the way, maybe when it was decided that I would enjoy the nuances of a different version, my mom’s homemade spaghetti and meatballs arrived at the table. But this recipe isn’t hers; it’s yours! Now let’s get down to it: According to the poll I posted, you all had mixed feelings about using dried herbs versus fresh, but dried won with 51 percent of the votes. It was so close, I’ll leave you fresh-herb lovers with a tip: If you go with fresh, use three times more than the amount of dried herbs in the recipe. And although no one asked, you should know that this recipe goes well with garlic bread. And tons of it. So here it is: a recipe curated by you and for you. To catch the next poll, follow me @SunnyAnderson on Twitter. It’s the tastiest questionnaire around!
Make the meatballs: Combine the beef, breadcrumbs, cheese, garlic, parsley, basil and 3/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a large bowl. Whisk together the milk, egg and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl. Pour over the meat and gently mix with your hands until well blended. Roll into 12 golf ball–size meatballs. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 20 minutes.
Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or other pot over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs in a single layer and cook, turning, until well browned all over, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the meatballs to a plate and set aside. Discard the oil and gently wipe out the pot with a paper towel.
Make the sauce: Heat the olive oil in the same pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, parsley, basil and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper; cook 1 minute. Add the wine and cook, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pot, until the wine is nearly evaporated, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, chicken broth, sugar and 1/2 cup water.
Add the meatballs to the sauce. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and cook until the meatballs are cooked through and the sauce thickens slightly, 18 to 20 minutes; season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook as the label directs for al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain. Return the spaghetti to the pasta pot, ladle in about half of the sauce and toss well to coat, adding more sauce if necessary. Divide the spaghetti and meatballs among bowls. Top with Parmesan and serve with the remaining sauce.