Life in a Northern Town

Seriously Good Italian Meatballs & Marinara

As I mentioned in the Indian meatball post, this is the winter I seriously intend to master the meatball— in all forms and cuisines. These Italian meatballs are good and super easy to make— important criteria for weekday meals. Homemade pasta sauce is surprisingly easy as well. It takes more time than opening a jar but is definitely worth the extra effort (and it freezes well). I stopped buying prepared pasta sauce about a year ago, after I found these canned tomatoes (link here). The quality of the tomatoes make a huge difference because my sauce is simple and the tomatoes are featured front and center. I have two other Italian meatball recipes in the hopper— they are not quite as easy but since I am on a mission to master the meatball, due diligence is important.

Seriously Good Meatballs & Marinara

Meatballs 1 pound ground beef (don't use extra lean, a little fat is good) 1 pound ground pork 1 cup fresh bread crumbs 1/2 cup Parmesan, finely grated 1/2 cup Romano or Pecorino, finely grated 1/3 cup milk 1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped 1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 2 cloves garlic, minced 1/2 medium red onion, chopped 2 eggs 3 tbsp olive oil

In a medium bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and milk and let sit for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except olive oil by hand, using a light touch. Take a portion of meat in hand, and roll between palms to form a ball that is firmly packed but not compressed. It's important to handle the meat as gently as possible, too much processing will result in tough meatballs. Repeat, making each meatball about 2 inches in diameter.

In a large, heavy pot heat olive oil over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add meatballs in batches. Do not crowd. Brown well on bottoms before turning, or meatballs will break apart. Continue cooking until browned all over. Remove meatballs to a plate as each batch is finished. Let meatballs cool slightly; add to sauce or cover and refrigerate until needed. Makes about 16 meatballs.

Marinara 2 28-ounce cans whole peeled  tomatoes in juice, drained, juice reserved, tomatoes finely chopped 1/2 cup butter 3 garlic cloves, minced 1 medium red onion, chopped 3 tbsp fresh basil, chopped 1/2 tsp (or more to taste) kosher salt 1/4 tsp black pepper

Preparation Combine tomatoes with juice, butter, garlic, onions, salt and pepper in large wide pot. Bring to simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add basil and season sauce with more salt and freshly ground black pepper.