First, make our rich Italian tomato sauce recipe: to a large frying pan or skillet, over medium-high heat, add the extra virgin olive oil and heat, then add the garlic cloves and fry for a minute or so until fragrant, then add the chilli flakes, stirring well with a wooden spoon or spatula to combine.
When the garlic cloves start to brown and sizzle and splutter, remove the cloves and set them aside but do not discard. Immediately add the finely diced onions to the pan and fry, stirring only occasionally so the onions don’t burn and adjusting the heat as necessary, until they’re soft, almost translucent and aromatic.
Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and sea salt, and stir to combine well. If you’re a garlic lover, return the garlic cloves to the sauce now; if you’re not, leave them out. Turn the heat to high so the sauce is bubbling. It will reduce fairly quickly on high heat, so stir the sauce occasionally.
When the tomato sauce is thick and luscious, turn the heat to low, taste, and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt if needed; if it’s a little acidic, add some sugar. Leave to simmer while you make the meatballs.
Next, prepare the meatballs: in a fry pan or round flat-bottomed wok, heat the olive oil and fry the diced onion until soft and translucent, then transfer to a dish and refrigerate to cool to room temperature.
In a large mixing bowl, soak the white bread in whole milk, then add the ground fatty pork and ground beef, whisked egg, ricotta, parmesan and pecorino cheeses, fried onion, chopped flat leaf parsley or celery leaves, and seasonings, and combine with your hands.
Using a tablespoon and kitchen scales, scoop out 40 g of the ground meat mixture and roll it a few times between your two hands to form a meat ball. Don’t over-roll as you want the mixture loose to produce a more rustic meatball rather than a tight ball. Transfer it to a tray and repeat until you’ve used up all the mixture, then refrigerate until ready to fry.
To another large frying pan/skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and heat until hot, then, using long tongs, transfer enough meatballs to fill the pan without touching. Fry the meatballs until they’re brown, using the tongs to rotate so that they’re evenly coloured, then transfer to the pan in which the tomato sauce is simmering. Repeat until all meatballs are fried and are simmering in the tomato sauce.
Bring a large pot of water to boil, add a teaspoon of salt, then add the spaghetti to the boiling salted water and cook for as long as the packet instructions direct until al dente.
Reserve a metric cup of cooking water before draining the spaghetti into a colander.
Return half a cup of the cooking water to the pot, then the spaghetti, then use a ladle or large serving spoon to transfer four scoops of tomato sauce to the pot and combine well, adding a little more cooking water if needed.
Distribute the spaghetti between the bowls, along with the tomato sauce and meatballs, sprinkle a tablespoon of grated Parmigiano Reggiano and fresh basil leaves onto the meatballs, and serve immediately with crusty bread.