Like all good Italian children, I firmly believe that MY mother makes the best meatballs on the planet. People have argued this with me. People have come close. But I will breathe my last breath believing no one can make a meatball like my Mom. That being said - I know many people feel the same!
For some reason meatballs are one of those deeply personal dishes. Like sauce/gravy, everyone has their own trick, secret ingredient, or special method for making and cooking these little round wonders. Truth is, they’re ALL good! But as always, my goal is to share what I know with those who don’t know where to start. Along with some personal stories and history of the dish.
My favorite meatball memory is eating them in the Fall during football season. I would run back and forth between watching the Giants play with my Dad in the living room, to helping my Mom make the gravy and meatballs in the kitchen. Eventually we would all come together to eat, usually with football still on the TV in the kitchen. That was our Sunday dinner. And we did it like clockwork for YEARS.
Another favorite is when my friend and I were in college and decided we wanted meatballs for dinner. Having never made them on my own I needed some guidance. For SOME reason (I really don’t remember) I couldn’t get a hold of my Mom so I called her mother, Nanny. When I asked her what goes into the meatballs she gave my a very typical Italian grandmother answer…a little of this, some of that. When I asked for quantities her response was “when it smells right, it has enough!” Great. Thanks Nan. But she was right…and I still use my nose to gauge if something is seasoned properly! I would encourage you all to smell your food while cooking it - you’ll be amazed at how much your nose knows!
And finally there was the year I was going to have some friends over for Super Bowl (football and meatballs really DO go great together) and I called my Mom as we were leaving Rutgers to head up to the house. I asked what she was doing and just like the scene from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” she says she’s making the food…meatballs…80 of them! For FIVE people! We laughed so hard. I’m pretty sure we did eat all those meatballs though.
Whatever your method is, however you eat them - meatballs are a classic dish - and an easy one! If you don’t have a go-to recipe - use ours. They’re soft and flavorful and perfect for Sunday dinner.
1-1 1/2 lbs “meatball mix” (1/3 beef, 1/3 pork, 1/3 veal)
2 C. Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix (blue package)
1/2 C. grated parmesan cheese
1/2 C. chopped fresh parsley
marinara sauce for serving
Soften the stuffing mix with some warm water and set it aside to soak a bit.
In a large pot, heat marinara sauce to a low simmer over medium heat.
In a large bowl, combine meat, egg, parsley, parmesan, stuffing mix, salt & pepper. Use your hand to combine all of the ingredients into a smooth mixture.
Break off pieces of the mixture (a little smaller than a tennis ball) and roll into meatballs. Place the meatballs directly into the warm sauce. Continue until all of the mixture has been formed and is in the sauce.
Cook the meatballs in the sauce for 35-40 minutes. Stirring GENTLY on occasion. Be careful not to break apart the meatballs.
Serve warm alongside pasta, on a sub or all by themselves! Enjoy with wine and football ;)