Thursday, February 25, 2010

Best. Italian Meatballs. Ever.

My grandmother was a great lady and she truly made the BEST meatballs. She passed the recipe down to my mom. I have such fond memories of making these meatballs as a kid with my own mother & grandmother. Now Jake, my son, gets to do the same thing with me!

I've added a couple small additions to the original recipe just because that's how I roll. :)

Ingredients for Meatballs (1 lb of meat will yield about 25 medium meatballs)
1-1.5 lbs of lean ground beef (I don't suggest using a different type of meat - I'm kind of a "meatball nazi" - they MUST be beef for traditional Italian meatballs)
1/2 onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
about 1/4 - 1/2 cup of Italian seasoned breadcrumbs - I never measure for these. I go by consistency and smell and the "look" of them.
1 egg
a small handful of grated parmesan cheese or other hard Italian cheese (I'm using Grana Padano) - this is essential. Don't omit it. It makes the delicious brown crust on the meatballs & adds a great nutty flavor.
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp basil
a hearty pinch of kosher salt
a few shakes of red pepper flakes

Put the meat in a large bowl. In the food processor, mince the onion & garlic very finely (not to a soup) or if you feel like chopping, chop away!  I like to chop the old fashioned way. Especially when I'm doing a
traditional family recipe like this one.  Grammy didn't measure....neither do I.

 Add the onions & garlic to the meat first, then cheese and spices. Then the egg.

Take off your watch & rings first...then get your washed hands in there & mix it up! This transfers "the love" into the meatballs. Grammy did it. I swear by it.
Now do the breadcrumbs. You will see what I mean about the consistency. Start with a 1/4 cup and if it's too "wet" just shake in a bit more breadcrumbs until the mixture is firmer, but not more than 1/2 cup of crumbs.

 Cook a tester meatball. I often need to add more salt. It's better to undersalt & add more than it is to add too much in the beginning and be up doodoo creek without a paddle. Make sure it gets that nice, rich, brown color on all sides. That's the flava!

Time to test. They are faaaantastic!

Time to fry 'em up! Get a large shallow skillet on medium-medium/high heat. Once it's hot, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and start to roll your meatballs. I use a medium sized scooper so they are all consistent and cook at the same rate. I don't recommend making ginormous meatballs this way. They need to cook too long and will burn on the outside and stay raw in the middle.

Get your pan full of balls.   :)  Once you get it full, the first ones you added will probably need to be flipped. Keep doing this process until all sides are a deep brown color. That color means FLAVOR! Shake the pan around and let them roll about making sure that all sides are browned and cooked evenly.

Lay them on a few paper towels to drain any excess oil. Finito!

You can do whatever you like with these, but tonight we are having meatball sammies!

 I like to whip up a quick 5 minute marinara with a clove of garlic, some onion, red pepper flakes, basil, oregano, a teeny squirt of honey, salt/pepper and a can of tomato sauce in a little saucepan. Slather a little garlic oil on some fresh bread & pop it in the toaster oven for a few minutes with some mozzarella with meatballs and marinara. Oh man. It's guuuuuud. Also fantastic with a slather of pesto on the bread or some cooked sweet peppers.

So, I'm figuring that I paid $2.19 for the pound of 90% lean ground beef (reduced for quick sale at Sam's Club), 10 cents for the onion, 10 cents for the garlic, 20 cents for the breadcrumbs, 8 cents for the egg, maybe 75 cents for the cheese & we'll just say 25 cents for the spices.  That comes to $3.67 for the meatballs. Add a couple bucks for a loaf of bread & cheese....and chaaaching! A really authentic & delicious meal that will feed an entire brood for around $7? Not too shabby.

I got 2 thumbs up from both of the boys. Jim even had TWO sandwiches. Jake was begging for more meatballs after I let him try the test meatball. They are THAT good. No other meatball will compare. I have a hard time eating anyone elses meatballs. Really.
Not many leftovers. I'm guessing those will disappear before we go to bed.


Anonymous said...

Looks tasty! I will have to try the recipe. Thanks for sharing.

Melissa said...

You won't be disappointed. I promise :)