I recently introduced my granddaughter to the fine art of meatballs! I put some of the pictures up on Facebook while we were cooking and I got many requests for the recipe, so here we go!
Please note: This is not one of my Simple Cooking for Guys recipes. It takes a bit of time and effort…
- 5 lbs. ground meat (I use 3 lbs. beef and 2 lbs. pork)
- 16 oz. Ricotta cheese
- 6 eggs
- 4 to 8 oz grated Parmesan cheese (or more if you want!)
- 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 15 oz box bread crumbs (you probably will not need all of it – I like the Italian blend. It has additional spices in it, but you can use plain.)
- 1 tbs. salt
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- Pine nuts (optional)
- 1 to 2 cups olive oil
- 2 to 3 large cans of tomatoes
- A large mixing bowl
- A very large spaghetti pot
- A large frying pan or skillet
- A blender
Prep time: At least an hour
Cooking time: 2+ hours
In a large mixing bowl, place the meat, eggs, Ricotta and Parmesan cheeses, parsley, salt, pepper and about 1-1/2 cups of breadcrumbs. I like to use pine nuts in my meatballs for an added crunchy surprise. You don’t find them made that way very much, if at all, any more so it sets them apart from others! If you want to try them, add them here, too.
There’s only one way to mix this and it is with your hands so give them a good wash and dig in!
Squish and squeeze and mix all of the ingredients together until they are well mixed.
It could take you as long as five minutes or so.
Now it gets a little bit tricky. Once you’ve completed mixing the ingredients, the meat should not be sticking to your hands. If it is, you need to start adding more of the bread crumbs from the box. You can add it at about ½ cup at a time, but if your mixture feels fairly moist, you may want to add more. Then, still using your hands, mix in the breadcrumbs. Our end result here is to roll a ball of meat in our palms that leaves very little residue on our palms.
In a large frying pan or skillet, heat some olive oil on medium/medium-high heat. The amount of oil you use depends on the size of your skillet. I look for at least a quarter inch of oil in the pan.
Place your large spaghetti pot on another burner. Using your blender, puree each can of tomatoes (probably individually, depending on the size of your blender) and pour them into the spaghetti pot. I then add two cans of water into the tomatoes and turn it to high heat to get it simmering while you fry the meatballs. (*If you want, you can use more cans of tomatoes and no water. When you’re done with the meatballs, this actually makes a nice, light sauce [we call if gravy] for pasta so you may want to use only tomatoes.)
Now back to your mixing bowl. Grab some of the meat and, between your palms, roll it into a ball (about the size of a golf ball. You know what meatballs look like!). Grab a little more or less until you get the feel of it. If a ball doesn’t come out the size you like, add or subtract from it.
I make about eight to ten to begin. Just leave them resting to one side of the mixing bowl as you roll them.
Place one of the balls into the hot oil. When it starts to sizzle, add meatballs to the oil until you have ten or so evenly spread within the pan. You’ll have to use your own judgment on this depending on the size of your skillet, but leave some room to turn them.
As they begin to brown on the bottom, use a fork to roll them to another side. Let that side brown and continue until the balls are browned on all sides. OK, you’re not going to believe me until you try it, but when I make these, there are only three sides that get browned. I guess it’s a sphere so it doesn’t have sides, per se. Be that as it may, something within me used to expect that I’d brown six sides, like a little cube. But, almost to a meatball, I end up browning three “sides” and it’s done. Lift it from the oil and drop it into the pureed tomatoes in the large pot. (Just add more olive oil if you run out before all of your meatballs are browned.)
While each side of the meatballs are browning, you can roll some more and leave them in the mixing bowl until you’re ready to fry the next batch. Continue browning the meatballs until you’ve exhausted the mixture in the mixing bowl.
When the last of the meatballs is in the tomato mixture in the large pot, add more water or pureed tomatoes until they are just covered with liquid. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce to a low heat and let them simmer for at least an hour and a half to two hours. You can leave them on simmer for quite a bit longer, if you’d like.
To make sure the ones on the bottom are not sticking, with a wooden spoon, very gently stir them a few times, being careful not to smash the little guys.
They’re’ now ready to serve! I like to sprinkle them with little more Parmesan at the table.
This recipe is for about 50 meatballs, depending on the size you make. Of course, you can cut this recipe down if you don’t want to make that many meatballs, but it is a tad time consuming so I always make a big batch and invite people over or freeze them and eat them later. They freeze nicely in plastic containers or Ziploc bags (with some of the sauce poured in).