Earlier in the week I posted about spaghetti sauce. Well, like wine and cheese or peanut butter and jelly, spaghetti and meatballs are a team. I'm certainly not opposed to a mouthwatering meatball hero or a plate of creamy spaghetti carbonera, since both spaghetti and meatballs can evenly hold their own, but combined they deliver a poweful dinner staple.
Even though spaghetti and meatballs couldn't be a more classic dish, there are probably more than a million and one ways to make meatballs. My recipe, of which I have about six different adaptations is probably still undergoing renovations but that isn't stopping me from making it or sharing it.
Classic Italian Meatballs
1 lb. ground sirloin (I try to buy the leanest available, such as 93/7)
1 Tbsp. mayo
3 slices bread, moistened (for best results use 2 slices of corn bread and one slice of white bread, but any will work)
1/2 - 3/4 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
3/4 cup grated fresh parmigianno reggiano cheese (pecorino romano will also work)
Basil and oregano, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Mix the meat, egg and mayo until fully combined. In the meantime, run the moistened bread through a food processor to break down into tiny pieces. It won't completely crumble due to the moisture, but that's okay. If you don't have a food processor you can use your hands to tear the bread into tiny, tiny pieces.
2. Add bread to meat mixture, combining well. You don't want the bread to be visible, otherwise they'll be obvious in your meatballs. If your bread has a thick crust, you'll want to remove that as well. Even though these are best with a combination of white bread/corn bread, I've made them using entirely whole wheat and they've turned out great. The different types of bread all lend different flavors to the meatballs but the biggest difference is in the texture.
3. Add seasonings and cheese to the meat mixture and mix well. I use my (freshly washed) hands for this step because I really haven't found a mixing implement that does as good of a job at blending everything together.
4. Preheat oven to 350. On a baking sheet, form meatballs into shapes - you'll get about 18-24 meatballs depending on their size. Bake until cooked through and then simmer on stove, for one hour, in the tomato sauce of your choice.
*Note: given that these bake and then simmer, some of you may question whether these are in fact a "worknight dinner." I believe that they absolutely can be whether you're home from work at 5p.m. and have the luxury of starting dinner early, or are like me and perfectly comfortable eating dinner at 10 PM.
You can very easily use jarred sauce for the last step, but if you're like me and are trying to swear off jarred sauce when possible, try my quick and easy weeknight tomato sauce to simmer your meatballs to perfection.