We’ve had an intense amount of life happening these last six months. Purchased a farm, improving a farm, COVID and a direct impact on my family, building a covered arena, building a second barn, building a warehouse, selling a horse, selling a boat, selling a house.
Phew. Let me catch my breath a minute.
So when I asked the man of the house what he wanted from my Instacart delivery and his response was his favorite “baked ziti and meatballs,” I was less than thrilled at the prospect of standing in the kitchen for hours. But he only asks for this particular treat on special occasions so I felt compelled to oblige him. He dove right into farm life for me and has earned himself a meatball or twenty.
To my surprise, I am SO grateful for the few hours of solitude I spent in the kitchen last night. Did I curse the farmhouse kitchen’s dated stove regularly? Sure. Did the dog steal a meatball? You bet. But the quiet process of crushing tomatoes with the flat of my knife, mincing garlic (because I forgot I brought a press to the new house, der), and smelling sauce simmering on the stove set me at a peace that I didn’t even know I needed.
I’ll save the details of our last six months for another day and will leave you with the hope that this recipe will still your mind and remind you of friends and family and all the good in your life, as it did for me.
Alteration Option: I’m going to tell you a secret. I don’t use my recipe. I tend to use however much meat I feel like and add breadcrumbs and milk until I’ve got the right consistency. If you like regularity, use the recipe and you’ll have excellent melty meatballs every time. If you’re like me, use it once or twice and then let yourself run wild. The key is always always always cook in the sauce and don’t turn them until twenty minutes have passed.
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 lb ground pork (you can use any mixture of the two meats)
- 1/2 cup fine Parmesan
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/3 cup breadcrumbs (Italian or regular)
- 1 egg
- 1 clove fresh minced garlic
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
- 1 tsp cracked ground pepper
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 Jars of Pasta sauce (see note below)
TO BE COOKED IN:
2 jars pasta sauce of your choosing. I use one Michael’s of Brooklyn Homestyle Gravy + one jar of Il Mulino Pomodoro
- In the largest deep sided saucepan you have, heat your two jars of pasta sauce to simmering temperature.
- Mix all ingredients by hand in a large bowl
- Shape into 2″ ish meatballs
- Place meatballs into the simmering sauce until they are snugged up to each other and cover each with a little sauce.
- Simmer for twenty minutes. This is key. Don’t turn your meatballs -AT ALL- for twenty minutes. I’m talking to you twitchy fingers. Let them lie. They’ll be fine I swear.
- Turn your meatballs and continue simmering in the sauce for another twenty-five minutes.
- They should be fully cooked and ready to devour after 45 minutes, but you can let them simmer for as long as you’d like.
- Cooking in the sauce is really how they get so delicious. Don’t cook them in the oven. Just don’t.
- Feel free to take some liberties with your balls. I forgot my egg last night and it was totally okay. I also used like 3.5 lbs of meat so I just kept adding milk and breadcrumbs and parm until the consistency was the way I like it, also totally fine. The only problem with the double batch is the quantity of balls. My big All Clad pan couldn’t fit them all so I cooked the first set and had about ten leftover and cooked them in the same sauce. You can also freeze the raw meatballs or keep them in the fridge to cook in the next few days.
- My fella doesn’t love them overly garlicky so feel free to add another clove if you’re a garlic lover. (Bay Area fam, I’m sorry that I haven’t trained him well after thirteen years)