For The Love Of Meatballs…

Go into any Italian restaurant, you’re probably going to find a dish called “Mama’s Meatballs” somewhere on the menu. It’s the quintessential Italian comfort food, made lovingly by mama from a recipe that goes back for generations, and her meatballs are always the best. In fact, the term ‘vendetta’ actually means “I must get revenge upon you for the slight you made to my mama’s meatballs”. (Okay, I made that up.) But Italians are very passionate about their mamas, and by extension, the foods she makes.

The thing I’ve always loved about meatballs is how versatile they are. You can make so many delicious meals from one batch of meatballs, from pizza, to soup, to pasta, or just by themselves as an appetizer, or entrée. Now I’m not Italian myself, so I’ve adopted a meatball recipe that I like from the thousands of recipes that are out there. I like to use fresh herbs, a mix of ground pork and ground beef, and surprisingly enough, gluten-free bread crumbs. A word of caution though… if you are squeamish about handling raw meat, you probably won’t like making meatballs. That’s because you need to use your hands to mix the ingredients together properly. It’s messy, but the results are incredibly satisfying. And nothing shows how much you love someone like a willingness to plunge your hands into a mound of raw, chopped meat and eggs.

The Almost-As-Good-As-Mama’s Meatballs

(Prep time: 20 minutes. Cook time: 1 hour. Makes approx. 25 meatballs.)

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 1/2 lbs lean ground pork
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, minced
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

Combine the milk and bread crumbs together in a small dish. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the other ingredients together, then add the soaked bread crumbs. Using your hands, gently mix the ingredients together until they are uniformly mixed. Do not overwork them though, the ingredients should be just combined. 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Pinch a smallish amount of the mixture off from the main mass with your fingertips, and gently roll the meat mixture into a golf ball sized meatball. Again, do not overwork the meatball. Place each finished meatball upon a lightly greased baking sheet. When all the meatballs are rolled, bake them in the oven for 1 hour, or until a probe thermometer placed in the centre of one reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Do NOT overlook the meatballs.

So now that your little globes of love are done, you can serve them with some homemade tomato sauce and grated Parmesan cheese. Or make an amazing meatball sandwich using a nice baguette, and some provolone cheese. 

While you’re gorging on your meatballs, make sure to save at least some of them so you can make Italian wedding soup. If you’ve never had this soup before, I really have to shake my head and wonder about the life choices you’ve made.

Italian Wedding Soup

(Prep time: 5 minutes. Cook time: 1 hour. Serves: 4-6)

  • 1tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3 litres chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup Pepe di acini, orzo, or other small pasta
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8-10 golf ball sized meatballs
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen kale leaves (or frozen spinach leaves)

In a large pot, sweat the onion and garlic in the oil over medium heat, until the onion is soft, but not browned (about 10 minutes). Add the salt, pepper, and other spices, and cook with the onions for 2 minutes, until the spices are fragrant. Add the broth to the pot, and bring to the boil. When the broth is boiling, stir in the pasta, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer the soup for 10 minutes.

Whisk together the eggs and cheese, then stir them into the soup. The eggs should form shreds and ribbons throughout the soup. Add the frozen kale and meatballs, and simmer the soup for another 10 minutes. Serve with some crusty bread, and lots of grated Parmesan cheese. How delicious is this soup? I’m not going to say anything, I’ll let the empty bowls speak for themselves.

Here’s to the meatball, the little food that love made. (Your definition of love may differ from ours.)


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Nice variations with your meatballs. The fresh herbs are fantastic!


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