1/2 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup milk
3/4 lb. sweet italian sausage, casings removed
11/2 lb. ground beef
3/8 cup ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups italian grated cheese blend (parmesean, pecorino romano and asiago)
1 large shallot, minced
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of all spice
2 tsps ground marjoram
3 garlic cloves
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Olive oil, as needed
1 yellow onion, diced
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 large can (35 oz.) plus 1 small can (12 oz.) plum tomatoes, chopped, with juices
1/3 cup chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 lb. spaghetti
To make the meatballs, in a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs and milk and mix well. Add the sausage, beef, egg, ricotta, one-third of the Italian cheese, the shallot, nutmeg, allspice, a good sprinkling of marjoram and 1 garlic clove, minced. Mix briefly with your hands just until the ingredients are well distributed. Season well with salt and pepper. Form the mixture into small balls 1/2 to 1 inch in diameter.
In a large fry pan over medium heat, pour in the olive oil to a depth of 1/4 inch. When it is hot, add the meatballs (in batches, if necessary) and brown well on all sides. Transfer to a paper towel-lined tray to drain.
Discard the oil in the frying pan and wipe out any burned bits. In the pan over medium heat, warm 3 Tbs. olive oil, add the onion and sauté until soft and lightly golden, about 4 minutes. Slice and add the remaining 2 garlic cloves and sauté about 1 minute more. Add the wine and simmer until it is almost completely evaporated. Add the tomatoes and juices. Then add the broth and bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Add the meatballs, reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the meatballs are cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Generously salt the boiling water, add the pasta and cook until al dente (tender but firm to the bite), 7 to 9 minutes. Drain the pasta well and put it in a warmed large, shallow bowl. Add a sprinkling of chopped marjoram to the sauce, remove the bay leaf and pour the sauce over the pasta. Drizzle with olive oil and toss gently. Serves 6.