Meatballs in red sauce, just like grandma used to make. But now you can have it in 30 minutes. Served with crusty, buttery garlic bread. What could be better?
Total: 30 min
Active: 30 min
Yield: 4 servings
1 cup breadcrumbs
Nutmeg, for grating
1/2 to 2/3 cup whole milk, eyeball it
1 pound ground beef, 80/20
1/2 pound ground pork
Salt and pepper
A handful of flat-leaf parsley
4 fat cloves garlic
1 cup loosely packed grated Parm
1 cup loosely packed Pecorino Romano cheese
1 teaspoon fennel seed or pollen
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or ground pepperoncini
1 large egg
4 tablespoons EVOO, plus some for drizzling
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic
One 14-ounce can whole or crushed Italian tomatoes
One 24-ounce jar, 3 cups, tomato passata or puree
A few leaves basil, torn
A sprinkle of superfine sugar, to taste (see Cook’s Note)
4 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic
A loaf of semolina sesame Italian bread or ciabatta
About 1 cup grated Parm
A handful flat-leaf parsley
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F with rack at center.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- For the meatballs: Pour breadcrumbs in a small bowl, add a few grates of nutmeg and douse well with milk. Toss and let the milk absorb.
- Place the meats in a large mixing bowl, season with salt and pepper, combine them and make a well.
- Rip off some parsley tops and finely chop; add to meats. Peel garlic.
- Grate in garlic with plane or chop by hand into meats.
- Pour in cheeses, sprinkle on fennel and red pepper flakes. Add egg and EVOO.
- Roll up sleeves, take off your jewelry. Combine the mixture and quarter the meat.
- Form each quarter portion into 2 large balls and place on parchment; roast 15 to 18 minutes.
- For the sauce: Meanwhile, in a medium Dutch oven or a deep cast-iron skillet heat EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, and melt butter into oil.
- When it foams, grate in garlic and stir 1 minute.
- Add canned tomatoes and passata. Break up tomatoes with spoon and bring to a bubble. Stir in basil leaves.
- Reduce heat on sauce a bit and let it bubble away 15 minutes, breaking sauce up with a paddle or spoon occasionally. Add salt and sugar if needed.
- For the garlic bread: While sauce and meatballs are cooking, heat EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, in a small pot or pan over medium heat and melt butter into it.
- Crush and grate garlic into butter and remove from heat.
- Split bread and add to oven a rack below the meatballs. Toast 5 minutes.
- Remove and brush with all the garlic and oil, top with cheese and chop a little parsley to sprinkle on top.
- Return to oven, warm another 3 minutes to set, remove.
- Remove meatballs from oven, drop into sauce and let them roll!
- Serve meatballs in rimmed plates or shallow bowls and add cut garlic bread for the mopping.
- Non-Italian tomatoes are sometimes less sweet so the sauce may need a bit of sugar.