Sunday with a Chance of Meatballs



If I could have meatballs fall from the sky, I would be standing outside with my mouth wide open.  Anyone who has read the delightful Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs to his or her children or grandchildren will know what I am talking about.  But in my book, the meatballs would be falling from heaven where my mom is head of the C.I.A. (Culinary Italian Association) and filling some very happy bellies.

One Sunday mom was  making  these marble-sized meatballs for a lasagna recipe. I nagged her until she let me help so we started rolling assembly-line style in our tiny kitchen.   Of course they had to be the right size, but as I tired, the balls got bigger and bigger, as did my mom’s side-eyed look that needed no translation.  A look much like Aunt Raffi shoots Giada on her Everyday Italian cooking show.  Now I have no one to give me the “look”.  Funny the things you miss.  What I don’t miss however is making the balls marble-sized, as the photo above confesses.

Now I reserve this recipe for a lazy Sunday while my bottle of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is breathing and Andrea Bocelli is singing.  Being a control freak, I prefer to grind my own meat, but you can have your butcher do it for you if you wish.  The sauce that goes with this is a breeze and should feed an army of friends and family.  P.S.  I always throw in a few tiny meatballs for mom just not to piss her off  and then  bring some to my favorite elderly neighbor.  Almost the same as  meatballs falling from heaven.

Meatball ingredients:

1 -1/2 lb.  chuck London Broil

3/4 lb.  boneless short ribs

1 -1/2 lb. chicken tenders

4 sweet (or hot) Italian sausages, casings removed

1 -1/4 lb. boneless country pork ribs

3 oz. package prosciutto

3 large eggs

1 cup grated Pecorino Romano

2 cups cubed white bread

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup chopped flat parsley

4 shakes Worcestershire sauce

1 cup buttermilk

Cut up all the meat in two-inch cubes and grind the meat in batches  (or select the meats and give it to your butcher to grind) placing all in a large bowl.  Remove crust from the bread and soak in the buttermilk for half an hour. Squeeze the bread cubes of most of the liquid and place into the meat bowl.  Add the eggs, grated cheese, garlic, parsley and Worcestershire sauce.  Mix the contents of the bowl with your hands  until blended.  Pinch chunks of meat mixture to create the balls any size you like, usually a bit bigger than golf balls. It helps to wet your hands a bit for better handling and with a light touch so they don’t get too hard.  I place them on a cookie sheet until all are done.  Then I fry them in a large non-stick frying pan with a drizzle of olive oil.  They will not cook all the way through in this step, you just want to brown them nicely.   You can start making the sauce now where they will finish cooking.

The Sauce:

1 large minced onion

4 cloves minced garlic

1 large 28 oz. can San Marzano crushed tomatoes

4 – 15 oz. cans Del Monte Tomato Sauce

4 tbs. chopped fresh basil

In a large pot or slow cooker, lightly brown the onion, and then add the  minced garlic and saute one minute, then add all the sauce.  Slow simmer the sauce and as the meatballs brown, lower them slowly into the sauce.  Simmer on low for at least two  hours, stirring occasionally.  Add the chopped fresh basil during the last half hour of cooking. Serve over your favorite pasta topped with some grated Pecorino.  Now you can pour the wine and enjoy.