Slow Cooker Spaghetti and Meatballs Cooks Country

Serves 6-8

Tip* Microwave the meatballs on a large plate or in a casserole dish to contain the rendering fat. You will need two 4.5-ounce tubes or one 6-ounce can of tomato paste. This recipe makes enough sauce to coat 1 1/2 pounds of pasta. Use a garlic press to mince the 8 cloves quickly.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped fine
2/3 cup tomato paste (equivalent to one 6 oz can.)
8 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup red wine (I used Marsala cooking wine)
2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 pound Italian sausage , casings removed (spicy if you want a little kick)
2 large eggs
1 1/4 pounds 85 percent lean ground beef
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil

1. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions, tomato paste, 6 garlic cloves, oregano, pepper flakes, and teaspoon salt and cook until golden, about 8 minutes.
2. Transfer half of onion mixture to large bowl; set aside. Add wine to pot with remaining onion mixture and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, then transfer to slow cooker.
3. Add cup Parmesan, mozzarella, sausage, eggs, teaspoon salt, and remaining garlic to bowl with reserved onion mixture. Mash with potato masher until smooth. Add beef and cream to bowl and knead with hands until well combined. Form mixture into twelve 2-inch meatballs.
4. Microwave meatballs on large plate until fat renders and meatballs are firm, 4 to 7 minutes. Nestle meatballs in slow cooker, discarding rendered fat. Cover and cook on low until meatballs are tender and sauce is slightly thickened, 4 to 5 hours. Skim fat. Stir in basil and remaining Parmesan. Season with salt. Serve over pasta.

MAKE AHEAD Raw meatballs and sauce can be refrigerated separately up to 24 hours in advance. When ready to cook, add sauce to slow cooker and microwave meatballs before adding them to the slow cooker. Continue with recipe as directed.