This is a terrific recipe for meatballs, we didn’t have them very often usually my Mom’s sauce was either meatless (Marinara) or cooked with chunks of beef and pork, but I do remember her meatballs being delicious, the consistency was soft and after leaving home I tried to make them like hers but never quite got there. I had never asked her for the recipe until last week and it was one of those Ah-ha moments when she gave me the list of ingredients. She adds Italian sausage meat, I had made them with ground pork and beef but never sausage. The taste is distinctive, the meatballs are very soft and moist (sometimes meatballs can be rubbery). They are seared and then cooked in the sauce slowly just about all day. Have it over pasta or make a meatball sub or grinder, anyway you serve it it’s delicious.
Makes: 16 large meatballs and approximately 8 cups of sauce
3 cloves garlic thinly siliced
1 shallot minced
4.5 oz tube tomato paste or 3/4 of a 6 oz can
3 28 oz cans whole tomatoes
olive oil for pan
5 leaves fresh basil +3 after sauce is cooked
salt and pepper to taste
NOTE: You can add a little sugar if your sauce is too sour (it happens sometimes)
1 lb ground beef (80%fat) I like chuck
1 lb sausage meat
handful italian parsley chopped
1/2 cup grated parmigiano or pecorino romano cheese
4 large eggs
5 thick slices (about 1/2 inch thick) bread (I used Italian) with crust removed and soaked in some water until very soft
2 tsp salt
several turns of the peppermill
You will need a large mixing bowl, add the meat and mix with spoon or with your hands. Squeeze the water out of the bread and add to meat along with the parsley, cheese, eggs and salt and pepper. Mix together until it’s all combined. Form into meatballs, I like mine about the size of a handball. In a non stick skillet heat some olive oil, place the meatballs about 1 inch apart and fry so they are browned on each side but not cooked through. Remove from the pan and set aside. Keep the oil and drippings in the skillet you will need it for the sauce.
To dutch oven add the oil from the meat that was fried (only enough to coat the bottom of the pan) then the shallot and cook until soft, add the garlic and let it cook until the garlic just starts to brown (takes only about 3 minutes) on medium high heat. Add the tomato paste and cook stirring constantly until it caramelizes. Puree the tomatoes in the blender or food processor until smooth and add to the onion,garlic and tomato paste, stir to combine and then add the meatballs and slow cook on medium/low heat covered for at least 3-4 hours stirring frequently, or if cooking all day use low heat so it just simmers, stirring occasionally.