Dinners

Recipe—Melt in Your Mouth Italian Meatballs

What’s not to love about a big heaping pile of spaghetti topped with fresh parmesan cheese and some giant meatballs? It’s a hit with people of all ages and this is one of my family faves. These meatballs are so juicy and savory that you just won’t be able to get enough of them. I love them smothered in sauce or just by themselves. The Italian flavor really comes through and is better than you can imagine. This recipe is incredibly easy to make and practically foolproof. Not only are these phenomenal over your favorite pasta with marinara but are also awesome sliced up on pizza or in a meatball sub with mozzarella cheese melted over the top. My mouth is seriously watering as I write this and I just had them two nights ago. You really won’t be able to get enough and your family will be fighting for the leftovers if there are any. This recipe yields approximately 20 1 1/2″ meatballs .

There are three methods for cooking these meatballs. I prefer to bake them so that I am not getting as much grease from the meat. This is how the recipe is written. However, for extra tender meatballs you can cook them in the pasta sauce on the stovetop or in a crock-pot. See instructions for additional cooking methods at the end of the recipe.

Note: This recipe calls for 1/2 lb of Italian sausage, which is typically sold by the whole pound. I always double the recipe and freeze the extra meatballs for this reason. They freeze incredibly well and we can get about 3 dinners worth out of them. If you would like to freeze them follow the recipe as written. Place the cooked meatballs on a wax paper lined cookie sheet making sure they don’t touch and put them in the freezer overnight. Once the balls are frozen distribute them into freezer bags. To reheat I just put defrosted balls directly into my pot of sauce and allow them to simmer for 15–20 minutes or long enough to heat through.

INGREDIENTS
1 lb ground beef
1/2 lb Italian sausage
1 large egg
1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
1/2 c breadcrumbs
2 tbsp fresh minced garlic
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 c milk
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl being sure that everything is evenly distributed.
  • Using an oversized spoon scoop about a ¼ cup worth of the meat mixture and shape into round meatballs. (Mine end up being about 1 1/4″–1 1/2″ in diameter.)
  • Place the formed meatballs in a large baking dish.
  • Bake for 25 minutes or until cooked through.

Method for cooking on the stove top: For this cooking method drop the uncooked meatballs into a pot of simmering sauce and do not stir for at least 20 minutes or the balls may break apart. After 20 minutes give the balls and the sauce a gentle stir and cook for an additional 20 minutes while simmering on medium-low heat and stirring occasionally.

Method for cooking in the crock-pot: Gently place your uncooked meatballs in the bottom of the crock-pot and pour the sauce over the top. Cook on low for 7–8 hours.

See my marinara recipe here for a great pairing with these meatballs: https://divadicucina.wordpress.com/2011/11/16/67/

Sauces

Recipe—Marinara Sauce

Who doesn’t love a big bowl of pasta smothered in a thick flavorful marinara sauce? It certainly is always a big hit in our household. I find jarred pasta sauces to be far too sweet for my liking. After trying this marinara recipe you will never again want a jar of Prego. I typically double the recipe and freeze it for future use. I’m sure canning it would be great also. This recipe makes a fantastic sauce to be used on homemade pizzas, over chicken parmigiana, paired up with your favorite pasta, or even as a dipping sauce.

Here’s a little history for you. Marinara sauce is the term for a simple tomato sauce cooked with herbs. It dates back to Italy as far back as 1550. The name loosely translates to “sailor-style” sauce in Italian. One theory for the name was because marinara could easily be prepared on ships. Due to the high acid content from the tomatoes, and the absence of meat, the sauce did not spoil easily, making it ideal for those at sea before refrigeration techniques existed. The other theory on the origins of the sauce is that the wives of sailors developed it. Marinara could be prepared quickly once the wives caught a glimpse of the ships offshore, making it possible to serve their husbands a hot meal as soon as they returned home, often serving it with the sailors fresh catch.

Note: For some extra veggies I occasionally add in some chopped mushrooms and green bell peppers when cooking the onion. If you would like to make a rich meat sauce brown 1 lb ground beef and 1 lb Italian sausage with your onion and garlic, and follow the rest of the recipe as usual. The meat sauce is killer in lasagna! (Lasagna recipe coming soon)

INGREDIENTS
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp dried parsley flakes
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried basil
2 (14 1/2 oz) cans diced tomatoes
3 (14 1/2 oz) cans tomato sauce
1 tsp red pepper flakes

STEPS

  • Brown onions and garlic in olive oil.
  • Add remaining ingredients.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Add water until sauce reaches desired consistency. I typically add about a 1/2 cup. Feel free to add more water as it cooks.
  • Keep in mind that it will thicken up quite a bit as it simmers.
  • Reduce heat to low and simmer for one hour.

Mangia!