Monday, March 21, 2011

Mama Lishie's Meatballs!

I love making my meatballs & I love serving them to company even more. And it's not just meatballs, the sauce & pasta play as background for the juicy, large, round packages of yumminess. I always make them the same way- a bit of frying then simmering for hours in my homemade sauce. I suspect I learned this method from my Italian step-grandmother. Although she always made her sauce from fresh-picked-from-her-Florida-garden tomatoes. I use either a large stock-pot or my 6-Quart, stove-top safe, Crock-pot. So my sauce & meatballs go hand in hand. I suppose you could finish up the meatballs in the oven but why on earth would you want to when you could have the meatball-flavored sauce too?!?!

So my meatball recipe begins with the sauce...

  • 2 TBSp Olive Oil*
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • 1-2 cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 2 TBSp Tomato Paste
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • S & P
  • 1 bay leaf (be sure to remove at the end of cooking/simmering)
  • **87 oz. tomato sauce (3 large cans)
  • 1 TBSp sugar

Heat olive oil on medium & add the onions. Saute until they are translucent but not browned. Add in the garlic for a moment, stir. Incorporate the tomato paste into the onion garlic mixture & cook for another minute. Add in the basil & oregano, stir. Change the burner heat to low. Add in the bay leaf & tomato sauce... Stir in the sugar. Allow sauce to simmer on low while you prep the meatballs...

  • 1- 1 & 1/2 lbs. ground beef (80%)
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 clove minced garlic (I microplane it)
  • 2 TBSp fresh Parsley
  • 1 tsp dried basil or 1 TBSp fresh basil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup AP Flour
  • 2-3 TBSp olive oil *see tips

Place the ground beef in a large bowl. add the next 6 ingredients onto the top of the beef, ending with the egg. Using your hands, gently fold all of the ingredients into the beef, combining them but not overly mixing them. Shape into 8 good sized round mounds.

In a saute pan, heat the oil on medium-high.

On a separate plate, place the flour for dipping. Using tongs, dip each meatball into the flour, gently tapping off the excess (flour). Place into the heated pan, 4 meatballs only in the pan at a time. Now watch the meatballs carefully- do not let them brown too much or burn... roll each around to make sure they equally brown on all sides. This technique "seals" the meatballs together, keeps them intact once they hit the sauce & allows for a delicious, juicy interior!

After the first 4 meatballs are "sealed", add them into the simmering sauce, covering them in it. Then repeat with the last 4 meatballs. Once all 8 meatballs are in the sauce simmering away, stir. Then allow your sauce to simmer for a minimum of 3 hours!!! Stirring every 15 minutes if the stock pan is on the stove. If in the crock-pot, leave be & stir at the very end. I allowed this evening's to simmer for 8 hours.

What they should look like "sealed".
Now that's a meatball!
Saucy, meatball-y goodness!
These meatballs (& sauce) are so very worth the time & effort- they are delicious. And do I really have to say it?! OK, I will... Serve with your favorite pasta :) Or as a Meatball Sub. YUM.

We chose yummy large shells tonight!

*Lishie tip- **87 oz. tomato sauce (3 large cans):
Here it depends on the thickness you prefer. As the sauce simmers, it thickens from the added tomato paste. But if you prefer thicker sauce, use either pureed tomato or whole tomato, you can puree yourself. I prefer sauce or a combination (puree, with more sauce than puree).

*This is not a recipe I'd substitute ground turkey or chicken!!! I use 100% Angus beef.
Also, I use two different olive oils. For the sauce, regular olive oil. For the meatballs, I use Carapelli Extra Light Olive Oil for Sauteing & Baking. It doesn't burn as fast!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this recipe Lish! I love your methods and step by step directions! Not to be outdone by your fantastic picures of the food during the process! Love it!