Grandma Betty’s Meatballs

Pasta. Sauce. Meatballs. It’s essential. Here is a recipe I came across on The Parsley Thief‘s blog. Not only do they give you their grandma’s recipe, but a homemade sauce recipe as well. Check out their site as well as the recipe below:

Makes 16 – 2″ meatballs, and enough sauce for 1 lb. of pasta

For the Meatballs:

  • 1 3/4 cups fresh bread crumbs (3 3/4 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 3/4 cups freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper (about 10 grinds)

For the Sauce:

  • 2 (28 ounce) cans of whole, peeled tomatoes (I like to use San Marzano tomatoes)
  • 1 large clove garlicsmashed
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea saltor to taste

Directions:

  • Begin a double, modified batch of Tomato Sauce with Onion & Butter {or your favorite Marinara Sauce recipe} by adding all of the ‘Sauce‘ ingredients listed above to a large, heavy saucepan, and bringing the mixture to a boil, over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook, uncovered, for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Begin the meatballs by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Add the bread crumbs to a large mixing bowl, and pour in the milk. Toss to coat the bread crumbs, and let them soak for 10 minutes.
  • Add all of the remaining ‘Meatball‘ ingredients to the bread crumb mixture, and mix gently, using your hands. You want to mix just until all of the ingredients are evenly distributed, but try to avoid over-mixing.
  • Using your hands, shape the mixture into 2″ balls, and lay them out on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, then use tongs to transfer the meatballs to the sauce. Simmer the meatballs in the sauce for another 10-15 minutes. Serve with your choice of pasta, topped with an extra sprinkle of grated Parmesan.


Some Notes/Options [Straight from The Parsley Thief]

  • Store-bought, dry bread crumbs can be used in a pinch, but making your own is worth the effort, whenever possible.To make your own fresh breadcrumbs, process sliced bread in a food processor until evenly ground. Or, you can cube fresh, or day-old bread {crusts removed} by hand. Any type of sandwich bread will do – you can even use whole wheat, if that’s your preference. I have given the proportion of bread crumbs by dry measure, and by weight, to make this easier.
  •  For the sauce, I like to use a modified version of Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce with Onion & Butter because it’s the best tomato sauce I’ve ever tasted! I’ve modified it,  because as written I find it to be too rich for serving with meatballs {but fantastic alone with pasta}. You can also substitute your favorite Marinara Sauce recipe, or even use your favorite jarred sauce – I won’t judge, and have been known to do so myself on many a pressed-for-time, weeknight dinner occasion! My most favorite jarred sauce is ‘Michael’s of Brooklyn’ Marinara – which is expensive, but worth every penny!
  • If you use extra-lean ground beef {i.e. ground sirloin, or 90% lean} you’ll need to line your baking sheet with parchment, or give it a quick coating of non-stick cooking spray, to prevent the meatballs from sticking. 
  • Over the years, I’ve made many a ‘fried’ meatball. Your Italian grandmother may tell you this is the only way to go, and there’s no question it’s delicious! But it also creates a big mess, and requires much more time standing over a hot stove. Not to mention, baking them is healthier. However, if you’d prefer the frying method, simply follow the instructions as is, but to cook the meatballs – Heat a tablespoon of oil in a heavy skillet, over medium-high heat. Add some flour to a shallow plate, or bowl, and roll each formed meatball in the flour, tapping off any excess. Fry the meatballs in batches, until evenly browned on all sides. Transfer the meatballs to a paper towel lined plate when done. Add the browned meatballs all at once to the sauce, and let them simmer until cooked through, about 30 minutes for 2″ meatballs.
Enjoy! xo
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