Seasonal Chef Recipe: Maria’s Favorite Meatballs

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Every now and then it’s nice to make meatballs from scratch. The instant gratification of biting into the slightly crisp crust and then tasting the soft center. There is nothing better. Add a little sauce and some crusty bread, and you have a a delicious meal. Click here to see my recipe for:  Quick and Easy Frying Pepper and Tomato Sauce to go along with these tasty meatballs. To read about my meatball and sauce inspiration click this link for: Seasonal Chef’s Sweet Frying Peppers.

Seasonal Chef Recipe: Maria’s Favorite Meatballs

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 4-6 servings

While the steps may look daunting, this is actually a very easy meatball recipe. Read through the directions and give it a try. You won't be disappointed!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of day old bread, cut into small cubes, I like whole wheat
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 lb mixed* ground meat: veal, beef, pork and sausage
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh basil
  • ¼ cup Marcona almonds, or lightly toasted blanched almonds
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup Parmesan cheese, divided
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. In a small mixing bowl drizzle the milk over the bread cubes and set aside for a few minutes.
  2. In a large mixing bowl break up the meats spreading them out and season with ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of pepper. Toss it around a little taking care to not overwork the meat.
  3. In the bowl of a mini food prep add the smashed garlic cloves, almonds, ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and pulse-process for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides. Then add the basil and process until it’s looks a little like wet sand.
  4. Scrape the nut mix out and sprinkle over the meat. Add the eggs to the processor and whizz for 30 seconds. (This will help pick up any bits that are sticking to the sides!) Drizzle that over the meat.
  5. The bread should be nice and soft at this point and have soaked up all the milk. Break apart the bread cubes with your fingers and sprinkle that over the meat along with ½ cup of the cheese.
  6. Gently combine everything, trying to not overwork the meat. The lighter your touch, the lighter your meatballs will be! Form the meatballs into your preferred size, using an ice cream scooper to keep them uniform. I like them slightly larger, so I use the ¼ cup size scooper.
  7. In a large sauté pan coat the bottom with extra virgin olive oil and fry them on all sides to get a nice crust. Try not to crowd them in the pan. Too many will yield a steamed meatball and not look as pretty. Also, don’t worry about cooking them all the way through, they will finish in the sauce.
  8. At this point you can add your own favorite tomato sauce and finish cooking the meatballs by simmering them for 5 minutes.

Notes

* If you don't have a local butcher, look for the pre-packed 1 pound “Meatloaf Mix” at the grocery store. Use that and 1 pound of ground Italian sausage. The key is to have a variety of meats to give the meatball a lot of flavor. The “meatloaf” mix usually contains a combination of veal, pork and beef.

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About Author

Seasonal Chef blogger Maria Reina comes to the world of food as a third career, spending a great portion of her adult life in the field of Human Resources. With her private company Bella Cucina Maria she is a personal chef, caterer and recreational cooking class teacher in Westchester. She's an avid food television watcher and cookbook collector, always looking for a new take on a traditional dish. In her free time she loves hanging out at local farmers, chatting it up with the farmers and doing cooking demos with their seasonal ingredients. In addition to her blog, which is loaded with easy recipes, you can follow her on Facebook (Bella Cucina Maria), Twitter (Bellacucinam) and Pinterest (Bellacucinam).

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