Editor's Note: Traditional Italian food is hard to come by, but once you find a recipe like this Mama’s Meatballs recipe that's been in the family for generations, you know you've found a keeper. Mama’s Meatballs is a meatball recipe like none you've ever tried before. The meatballs are tender and full of flavor - you'll like these better than the spaghetti you serve them with! They're great over pasta, on sandwiches, or even on their own. You'll never go back to frozen meatballs once you've tried this delicious Italian dish.
My mother is known better for these meatballs than she ever could have imagined. In Italy, meatballs, or polpette, are usually a lot smaller and, weird as it may seem, never eaten with pasta. They are served alone or in soup. In the United States, they became a lot bigger and are eaten alone, on heros, with spaghetti, and even on pizza. There are a lot of meatballs out there, folks, and I’m sure you have tasted your fair share, but I believe these are the best meatballs in the world. I can’t, to this day, pinpoint what it is that makes them so phenomenal; I think it is largely the fact that she mixes and rolls them by hand. They are not dense like many meatballs, but they also don’t fall apart in tomato sauce. It’s not.just my bias speaking here; everyone loves them. People who hate pork love them; people who never go near veal can’t get enough. Vegetarians make exceptions for them. I encourage you to make these meatballs your own. Your kids will love something you make by hand, too.
Cooking MethodPan-frying, Sauteeing
OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party, Game Day
Recipe CourseMain Course
Dietary ConsiderationPeanut Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free
EquipmentBlender, Food Processor
Taste and TextureMeaty, Savory, Spiced
- 1/3 cup chicken stock
- ¼ yellow onion
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- ¼ cup fresh italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped fine
- ½ pound ground beef
- ½ pound ground pork
- ½ pound ground veal
- 1/3 cup plain bread crumbs
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 to 6 cups Mama’s Marinara
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Place the chicken stock, garlic, and onions in a blender or food processor and purée.
In a large bowl, combine the puréed stock mix, meat, bread crumbs, eggs, Parmigiano-Reggiano, red pepper flakes, and salt. Combine with both hands until the mixture is uniform. Do not overmix.
Put a little olive oil on your hands and form the mixture into balls a little larger than golf balls. They should be about ¼ cup each, though if you prefer bigger or smaller, it will only affect the browning time.
Pour about ½ inch of extra-virgin olive oil into a straight-sided, 10-inch-wide sauté pan and heat over a medium-high flame. Add the meatballs to the pan (working in batches, if necessary) and brown the meatballs well on all sides. This will take about 10-15 minutes.
While the meatballs are browning, heat the marinara sauce in a stockpot over medium heat. Lift the meatballs out of the sauté pan with a slotted spoon and put them in the marinara sauce. Stir gently. Simmer for one hour.
Serve with a little extra Parmigiano-Reggiano sprinkled on top.
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