If you’re Italian, meatballs are a staple. When I was growing up in the Italian neighborhood of Tacony, PA, you could go into any home on Sunday and taste an array of meatballs. All different. All delicious.
What I like about Alessandra’s is that it is a basic recipe. Follow the recipe, and you’ll serve up meatballs your family will enjoy. You can also use it as a jumping off point and tweak it to your liking.
At The Italian Grandmama’s Guide Community on Facebook, Diane, one of our members, uses her husband’s family recipe, which adds pignoli nuts and raisins to the raw meat mixture. She says it must be pignoli nuts, though – no substitutions! The raisins add a sweetness to the meatballs.
John, another member, occasionally adds pancetta after he grinds it in a food processor. Pancetta is a cured pork product.
I learned from my Aunt Helen to soak bread in milk. If I don’t have stale bread, I’ll use whatever kind is in the pantry and dampen it with milk. It makes the meatballs so moist! Alessandra shows us her method in the video.
Cindy, another member, uses veal and pork instead of beef. Some combine all three! I often use ground turkey instead of beef. Sacrilege, I know! The turkey is naturally leaner than the beef, so you may need to compensate if it’s too dry.
My dad added Worcestershire sauce to his meatballs for a little kick, and I enjoy this. Worcestershire has salt in it, so you may need less salt in the meat mixture. Growing up we added oregano, which may be the Americanized version but I like it just the same! We also add onions sometimes, although Alessandra puts garlic in her meatballs and onions in her gravy.
Fried or baked meatballs? I’ve concluded that frying is my favorite. Just a little brown, as Alessandra explains. Frying or baking keeps the meatballs from falling apart in the sauce.
One of my favorite meals growing up was meatball sandwiches! After cooking in the gravy (or sauce), scoop those meatballs onto an Italian roll, smother in gravy and mangia!
Ready to get started on your meatballs?
Italian Meatball Recipe
2 1/2 lbs chuck and sirloin mix chopped meat
(2) 10 inch pieces of stale bread
1 clove chopped garlic
Small bunch of fresh parsley
Salt to taste
Fresh cracked black pepper
1/3 cup pecorino romano
1/3 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
Vegetable oil to fry
Add your meat to a large bowl. Squeeze the milk out of the bread and add it to the meat mixture.
Add three eggs to start. Add about 1.5 teaspoon of salt, more per taste. Add cracked pepper and grated cheese. Add cut garlic and chopped parsley. Mix all ingredients together.
Form meatballs in size desired, keeping uniform. Add oil to pan and heat. Add meatballs and turn until done.
When meatballs are fried, add to your sauce.
More details are in the video, so take a few minutes to watch!
What do you add to your meatballs? We’d love to hear your versions. Share in the comments below!
Angela DiCicco, The Italian Grandmama
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