The Italian Meatball

It has taken me years to perfect the Italian meatball.  I have yet to find a restaurant that makes it to my standards.  And yes, I am very well aware that it’s most likely my standards that are the problem and not the restaurants, but let’s just thank me for my 15+ years of meatball experimentation and not get into my neuroses.

These are the facts and they are without dispute (at least as far as I’m concerned):

  1. You must use a combination of meats
  2. You must add milk
  3. You must start cooking in the frying pan, and finish in the sauce.

And this is why:

1.  You must use a combination of meats. I’ve seen multiple recipes requiring three ground meats: beef, veal, and pork (plain or sausage).  I’ve have a hard time wrapping myself around the use of veal so I stick with beef and pork.  Plain beef meatballs are boring.  Plain pork meatballs aren’t meatballs.  Italian sausage gives it too strong a sausagey-flavor.

2.  You must add milk – but not a lot.  My mother always soaked break in milk, but I’m lazy and just toss some in there.  It definitely helps with the moisture.

3.  You must start in the frying pan and finish in the sauce. The meat flavors the sauce wonderfully, and the sauce keeps the meatball moist and soft.  Thirty minutes in a simmering sauce is usually plenty.

By the way – my husband says that I am durn close to having made the perfect meatball.  I take that as a challenge and am going to continue to experiment.  Until then…here ya go:

Meatballs – recipe for 4

(I usually triple this and make meatball subs the next day)

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 3/4 lb ground pork
  • 2 med eggs (or 1 large)
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs (dried or fresh)
  • 3/4 grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoon dried parsley (or 2 tablespoon of fresh)
  • 1/8-1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Prepare your favorite tomato sauce and bring to a simmer.  Mix all ingredients together with the exception of the olive oil, and form meatballs, placing on plate as they are formed.  Place in refrigerator (30 minutes) or freezer  (10 minutes) to firm.  Heat the oil medium high in a skillet and brown meatballs on all sides, 4-5 at a time, removing to drain on paper towels.  Place meatballs in simmering sauce for 30 minutes.

Serve over whopping platter of spaghetti or in subs with melted cheese.  Serves 4.

because I forgot to take photos:  Photo credit: CC licensed by jshj

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