Last week, my friend MKG asked me if I had a meatball recipe.
Her request had great timing because it gave me an idea. Meatballs and spaghetti would be the perfect dinner for a crowd. So, I asked her if she would mind waiting a week for the recipe and she said, “No problem.” It has taken me a bit longer to post the recipe than I’d planned!
Last Tuesday, I made the meatballs for Wednesday night’s dinner. I was a bit ambitious in my proportions because I thought we’d be 10 for dinner, but we were only 9. And, I thought my nieces liked meatballs, but they only like meat sauce. Oh, well – they were just fine having spaghetti with tomato sauce and no meat. Once they knew that there were meatballs, we couldn’t smoosh the meatballs and disguise the sauce as meat sauce.
I had a lot of leftover meatballs (and turkey Italian sausage), which I promptly popped into the freezer for a future meal.
Here is the recipe, MKG!
Meatballs with Tomato Sauce
adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, by Marcella Hazan
serves 4, generously (about 12 meatballs in total)
1 lb. ground chuck (this relatively fatty ground beef yields moist meatballs)
1/3 cup milk
1 slice good white bread (I use Trader Joe’s “Mom’s White Bread”)
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. olive oil
pinch ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 28 oz. can whole plum tomatoes OR about the equivalent amount of good tomato sauce
Pour the milk into a microwave proof bowl. Tear the bread into pieces and add to the bowl. Microwave for about 40 seconds until the milk is hot and the bread has absorbed the milk. (You can also do this on the stove in a small pot.) Stir the bread and the milk together, smooshing up the bread until you have a paste-y looking goo. Sounds delicious, no?
In a large bowl, lightly beat the egg. Add the onions, parsley, olive oil, parmesan and seasonings. Stir to combine. Add the bread/milk mixture to that and stir. Add the meat. With your hands, mix the meat and the other ingredients until very well combined. Do not overmix, or your meatballs will be tough.
In a large saucepan, bring the tomatoes or the sauce to a simmer.
Put a large, non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Form meatballs, about 2-inches in diameter (you will get about 12 meatballs). Add them to the pan. (If you don’t have a non-stick pan, use a regular one, but coat it with some olive oil.) Fry the meatballs, turning them as they get browned, until all sides are browned. Add the meatballs to the simmering tomatoes/sauce as soon as they are done.
Simmer the meatballs in the tomatoes/sauce, covered, for about 20 minutes.
Adjust the seasonings of the sauce to your taste.
Serve the meatballs over spaghetti, in an italian roll for a sandwich, etc.