Italian-style meatballs, cute morsels of ground beef, packed with tons of flavor, slow-cooked in a rich tomato sauce, will have your taste buds singing.
If you love meatballs, then this recipe is for you. In our home growing up, my parents would be making all kinds of tomato sauces or sugo, as we call it in Italian. Variations like straight tomato basil, tomato with carrots and onions, bolognese, sausages one of my favorites, there were always battles for the sausages, and then sugo with polpette: meatballs (a mix of ground meat mixed with herbs, bread soaked in milk, eggs, Parmigiano Reggiano, and Italian seasoned bread crumbs) laid to rest in a thick rich tomato puree and stewed ever so slowly for hours. I have mentioned this before about getting to the bottom of the saucepan and scooping that rich pulp and slathering it on a piece of pagnotta (Italian rustic bread) now that's Italian so good I would have a few of these what I called sauce sandwiches, absolutely amazing, you have to try it.
I know when we think Italian, spaghetti and meatballs come to mind, but in true traditional Italian cooking, it is not the norm. The spaghetti is served with just the sauce, and after that is consumed then comes the next course meatballs with some side dish. Actually, the order of plates in an Italian household would go something like this: Antipasto (appetizer), Primo (first course) which is usually pasta or minestra (soup). Then Secondo (second course) consisting of some kind of meat or fish accompanied by a Contorno (side dish) being cooked vegetables or salads. Then finally Dolce (sweets) and Frutta (fruits) and the finish, a robust espresso. It is always a feast and a great social experience. Now back to what we made today Meatballs as I was sidetracked by the legalities of Italian cooking. We were asked by a charitable organization that helps patients with cancer make some food for themselves and their families at these troublesome times. We were honored and humbled to be able to help and trying to decide what to make. This particular family had small children and I thought how about some cute little meatballs cooked in San Marzano tomato sauce would be great. There would be enough sauce for them to make some pasta to enjoy.
A blend of good organic grass-fed ground beef, shredded mortadella for an extra bit of flavor, combined with fresh herbs from our garden, a little dusting of Parmigiano Reggiano, some bread crumbs mixed with herbs and cheese, and there you have it a morsel packed with such a flavor it will have your taste buds singing, not to mention the fact that they are slow-cooked in a rich tomato sauce.
These would be perfect in a nice fresh baked bun with arugula and fresh mozzarella.
Now that's a meatball sandwich! All kidding aside, this is an easy dish to prepare and very enjoyable. I might even try to make some veggie ones one day, who knows they could be a hit. My creative mind is already thinking.
Happy cooking, buon appetito!Print
For the meatballs:
- 500 g organic lean ground beef.
- ½ cup shredded mortadella.
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon fresh parsley.
- 1 teaspoon dry oregano.
- 1 small clove garlic minced
- ¼ cup day old bread soaked in 1 tablespoon milk.
- ½ cup parmigiano reggiano
- ¼ cup Italian style bread crumbs.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.
For the sauce:
- 600 ml of San Marzano D.O.P. tomatoes.
- 4 leaves of fresh basil.
- 1 whole clove garlic.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Break up the ground beef.
- Mix in the shredded mortadella.
- Add the parsley, oregano, minced garlic, salt and pepper.
- Mix with your hands blending the ingredients well into the meat.
- Add the egg, bread soaked in milk (squeeze out excess milk). Mix again with your hands.
- Sprinkle in parmigiano reggiano and bread crumbs. Mix well again.
- Use a teaspoon to scoop the meat and place in your hand.
- Roll meat in a circular motion in between both hands and form into a nice ball.
- Repeat until all ground beef mixture is used.
- In a sauce pan heat olive oil.
- Place meatballs in pan and slightly brown.
- Add in pureed tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper and garlic.
- Cook on low heat for about 30-40 minutes, partially covered.
- Ready to serve.