There's something about this classic that is always so reliably comforting. Making these meatballs is my Mamma Mia moment. I feel like an Italian Bubbie with my hands buried in a bowl of these ingredients. I love kicking it old school with this JESScipe. It's fairly similar to my previous bolognese recipe. This drives me crazy since my son, who loves the sauce version, refuses to try the ball one. You can hear my cries of, "but it tastes the same!" a mile away. I'm hoping one day he will JUST TRY IT. Sigh...kids...
I can say that one of the secrets to not getting annoyed with the ball shaping process (yeah, I know😉) when you're hands get sticky throughout, is to keep a bowl of water next to your mixing station. Wet hands make for a smooth, easy rolling of the meat. Dry hands make the meat sticky and fall apart, before you've even had a chance to drop them in the pot. I need to wet my hands after three or four balls(😳). My eldest daughter loves this dinner. It's so cute when she comes off the school bus, so excited to sit down to this after a long day.
Prepare your favorite pasta, rice, or other grain according to package directions. I even use sautéed zucchini noodles for myself for a carb free version. I'll just sautée those in a couple of tbsp of olive oil, adding salt and pepper to taste. If the pan dries up and the zucchini sticks, deglaze with little amounts of vegetable broth (from a box) as needed. Zucchini is naturally a watery vegetable, so give it enough time to rest after, to let that water steam out and evaporate.
- Meatballs : two pounds of your choice of ground beef, veal, chicken, or turkey.
- Two large cans tomato sauce.
- Two lightly beaten eggs
- Two tbsp each garlic powder and paprika.
- Two teaspoons cumin.
- Quarter cup of finely ground breadcrumbs, to use only if your mixture seems too moist.
- Two tsp Italian Seasoning.
- A tbsp of room temp water.
Heat the tomato sauce up in a large wide pot. Add a large bay leaf. I like to season the sauce itself with a generous sprinkling of garlic powder and dried basil. I use a wide pot to let the meatballs breathe as they simmer.
As the sauce comes to a low boil, mix all other ingredients, saving the breadcrumbs for last, using if needed. The bit of water ensures a softer meatball 👍🏼. Mix well, but not aggressively. Don't over mix, this will cause unwanted density. I learned this from Rocco Dispirito, who, as a side note,is pretty hot.
When the sauce starts to bubble, drop the meatballs in gently cover the pot, lower flame to a low medium simmer. Cook for about 40 minutes, gently stirring every dozen minutes or so.
Eat plain, with your chosen starch, or on a club roll as a delicious meatball sandwich. These freeze beautifully. I make a lot in advance and then pull them out as necessary. A small portion of three meatballs over an attractive grain such as Farro, also makes for a nice appetizer. Serve with a warmed up loaf of rustic bread, some red wine🍷, and I think you've got yourself a winner of a dinner. Btw, if anyone knows how I can get a reservation at Rao's, please let me know. I might have to join the mafia🤔(fine).