I make meatballs different than everyone else. This is something I didn’t realize until watching a few cooking shows and reading recipes about how meatballs are made. Apparently, the traditional way to cook meatballs is in the oven – you bake them.
Bake them? Really? That confused me. Never in my life have I had a home-made baked meatball. It simply isn’t done in my family. We ball those little suckers up and throw them in pot of bubbling,from-scratch red sauce. That way the the gorgeous juices, spices and extra meaty bits give the sauce an extra layer of flavor.
On my mother’s side I come from a strong Sicilian background. My great-grandparents immigrated from Sicily to Brooklyn, New York. They were very traditional and my great-grandmother loved to cook. She passed down a lot of her recipes to my grandmother who passed them to my mother who passed them down to me…well kind of.
More, my mother was a great cook when she had time to fire up the burners in the kitchen. As my sisters and I got older and had our own kids we started asking about how to make certain family dishes. I have taken many of those recipes and made them my own including these (not baked but boiled in sauce) meatballs.
This hearty recipe is really very simple and packs a lot of bold taste. I would recommend making a pot of red sauce from scratch if you have the time. However, in a pinch you can use a bottle or two of the store-bought stuff. Keep it simple –no fancy frills. A vegetable-based spaghetti sauce will do the trick (e.g. basil/tomato, mushroom, tomato/onion, etc.)
This recipes makes a lot of meatballs. Feel free to freeze half of them and use them at a later date. They do hold up quite nicely. Or you can cook them all in a double batch of sauce and make meatball subs with the left overs. Or sprinkle some cheese on them and eat them by themselves in the sauce. They are that good.
Sicilian Style Meatballs
I eyeball my ingredients. So, these are rough estimates. Use more or use less if you feel it’s right. Make this recipe yours…and as always, let me know how it goes.
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup ground Parmesan cheese
a handful of freshly chopped Italian parsley
3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
a tsp of an Italian herb blend (no salt)
a dash of salt (remember the Parmesan is salty so don’t add too much)
a dash of red pepper
1/2 to 1 cup water or broth
Scratch Red Sauce or 2 bottles of store-bought
Make sure your red sauce is in a big pot simmering on a low heat. The pot should only be about halfway filled since the meatballs are going to take up the rest of the room.
Throw all the ingredients in a big bowl. If you aren’t squeamish wash your hands and then squish all the ingredients together. Or if you don’t want to get messy do the best you can with a mixing instrument. Go ahead and add more cheese, parsley, or spices if you need to. Just make sure everything is well blended.
Once your meat and ingredients are thoroughly mixed, wash your hands again. Then take a small amount of the meat mixture and ball it up between your palms. They should be about the size of a golf ball. Remember when you cook them they are going to shrink a little bit.
Place your uncooked meatball on a flat surface like a cookie tray. Or put down some parchment on your counter top and place them there. Continue to roll meatballs between your palms until all the meat mixture is gone. Then gently drop the meatballs in your red sauce, one at a time. (As you can see from my picture I am messy. I got sauce all over the back of my stove. lol.)
Make sure that all of your meatballs are covered with sauce. If your meatballs aren’t fully covered then add some water or broth until they are. It shouldn’t be more than a 1/2 of liquid as you don’t want thin out your sauce too much.
Cover the sauce and meatballs and let simmer for about an hour. Watch your meatballs and stir the sauce very gently (you don’t want your meatballs to break up) 2-3 times to make sure that they are cooking evenly. At the half way point you can add a little bit of water or broth to your sauce if it gets too thick. However, it shouldn’t if it’s on low heat and simmering.