Of all of my childhood memories, one of the most vivid was being at my great grandmother’s house on a Sunday and eating her delicious meatballs. They would be piled high in a bowl and she would have them in the oven to stay warm. I think every one of us will tell you Granny’s meatballs were the best!
Her recipe has been handed down through the generations, and while I know the recipe has changed over time, what is most important is that it represents a tradition that has remained in my family to this day.
As a child, every Wednesday we had macaroni and meatballs, which I continued when I had my own family. To this day, I will keep a dish of meatballs in the oven after I cook them. It is the first place everyone looks when it is pasta night at our house!
I learned how to cook these morsels at a very young age and I have never measured any of the ingredients! I have done my best to give you estimates in measuring the ingredients.
I have also included my recipe for a marinara sauce that I use for pasta. I start my sauce with sausage, which gives it a great flavor. Whenever possible, use fresh ingredients.
Ingredients for Sauce:
1lb of Hot Italian sausage, cut into 2 inch pieces
1lb of Sweet Italian sausage, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 35 oz can of crushed tomatoes
2 6 oz cans of tomato paste
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1 cup fresh basil, chopped
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
¼ cup fresh oregano, chopped
½ cup of water
1lb of dried pasta
In a large, heavy sauce pan or Dutch oven, heat olive oil. Place sausage in pan and brown on all sides. Add chopped onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes till translucent. Add water to pan with tomatoes and tomato paste. Fill one of the small and the large can with water, scraping any tomatoes from the can and add to pot, less water will give you a thicker sauce. Add the salt, pepper, basil, parsley and oregano. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Ingredients for Meatballs:
1 ½ lb of ground beef, veal, and pork (ground beef can be used alone if preferred)
½ cup grated Locatelli Romano cheese (adjust if needed)
4 to 5 slices white bread or Italian bread, ground in a food processor (do not pulse into crumbs I like to keep them a little coarse)
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1 clove of garlic, or to taste
1 cup fresh parsley
½ cup fresh basil
¼ cup of water (or less)
Place the ground meat mixture and eggs in a bowl. Chop the parsley, basil, and garlic in a food processor and add to mixture. Grind the bread in food processor and place in bowl. Add the Romano cheese and season mixture with salt and pepper. Add some of the water and mix together; if needed, you can add more bread. You do not want the mixture to get too soft or it will be hard to roll into meatballs.
In a large frying pan, add enough Crisco oil to cover the bottom of the pan. If you like, you can use olive oil, though I feel olive oil makes the meatballs get too soggy. Make sure the oil is hot as this will make a difference in how they cook. Roll the meatballs with your hands, and place into hot oil. Cook the meatballs until they are crusty, then turn. If you do not want them to be crusty on the outside, you can turn them earlier. Cook the meatballs until they browned all over and cooked through.
With a slotted spoon remove the meatballs from the frying pan. If you want to, place a few meatballs in a bowl to keep warm in the oven until ready to serve. Place the remaining meatballs in the marinara sauce until ready to serve.
Just before serving, cook your favorite pasta as directed and drain. Use a slotted spoon to remove the sausage and meatballs from the sauce and place in a separate bowl to serve. Ladle some of the marinara sauce into the bottom of a large pasta bowl, add the pasta and additional marinara sauce, and toss the pasta to coat. Serve with the meatballs, sausage, grated Locatelli Romano cheese, crusty Italian bread, and a salad.
I hope you enjoy this meal as much as we have throughout the years!