CLASSIC ITALIAN MEATBALLS

 

This is an absolute favorite in our house, and so versatile – serve over pasta, make meatball subs, or just in a big bowl with toothpicks for a party favorite!  While you can easily buy pre-made meatballs, nothing beats homemade…not to mention being able to control the amount of filler as many store-bought meatballs tend to have more breadcrumbs or potato starch to get the price down.  Just sayin…

PREP TIME:  35 min (10 for the sauce, 25 for the meatballs) 

 

STOVE TIME: 

Wonderbag Method 40 min

Conventional Method 4 hours

 

SERVES:  8 (makes about 50 meatballs)

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE SAUCE

  • 4 TBSP (60 ml) olive oil

  • 2 yellow onions, diced

  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 TBSP dried basil

  • 2 to 3 14 oz (400 g) cans diced tomatoes*

  • 1- 5 oz (140 g) can tomato paste

  • 2 tsp salt (or to taste)

 

FOR THE MEATBALLS

  • 2 eggs

  • ½ cup (120 ml) milk

  • 1 cup breadcrumbs

  • ½ cup (40 g) shredded parmesan cheese

  • 2 tsp dried oregano

  • 1 tsp garlic powder

  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

  • ¼ tsp nutmeg

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp black pepper

  • 1 pound (450 g) ground beef

  • 1 pound (450 g) ground pork

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COOKING INSTRUCTIONS

WONDERBAG METHOD

 

Prep the Sauce First

1)  Heat a 5 quart (5.5 litre) pot on medium-high.  Add olive oil and onions, and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

 

2)  Add the carrot and cook for 5 minutes.  Mix in the garlic and basil and cook for 30 seconds.

 

3) Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and water, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 25-30 minutes, while you make your meatballs.

 

Move on to the Meatballs

4)  Using a fork, whisk together eggs and milk.  Add the rest of the ingredients except for the meat, and mix well to ensure the seasoning will be evenly distributed when you add the meat.

 

5)  Still using a fork, fold in the ground beef and pork and mix well.

 

6)  Using your hands, shape into 1½ inch (3½ cm) meatballs, and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet(s) or baking tray.

 

7)  Set your oven broiler/grill to high, and position the top rack so that the meatballs will be about 3 to 4 inches (10cm) from the heat source. Cook the meatballs for 3-4 minutes to set the structure of the meatballs.

 

8)  Gently fold the lightly grilled meatballs into the simmering sauce, cover and simmer another 10 minutes.

 

9)  Seal your lidded pot in the Wonderbag and leave it to cook for 6-7 hours (best to leave it  all day, the flavours become richer the longer you leave it).

CONVENTIONAL METHOD

 

Prep the Sauce First

1)  Heat a 5 quart (5.5 litre) pot on medium-high.  Add olive oil and onions, and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

 

2)  Add the carrot and cook for 5 minutes.  Mix in the garlic and basil and cook for 30 seconds.

 

3) Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and water, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 25-30 minutes, while you make your meatballs.

 

Move on to the Meatballs

4)  Using a fork, whisk together eggs and milk.  Add the rest of the ingredients except for the meat, and mix well to ensure the seasoning will be evenly distributed when you add the meat.

 

5)  Still using a fork, fold in the ground beef and pork and mix well.

 

6)  Using your hands, shape into 1½ inch (3½ cm) meatballs, and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet(s) or baking tray.

 

7)  Set your oven broiler/grill to high, and position the top rack so that the meatballs will be about 3 to 4 inches (10cm) from the heat source. Cook the meatballs for 3-4 minutes to set the structure of the meatballs.

8)  Gently fold the lightly grilled meatballs into the simmering sauce, cover and simmer another for 4+ hours, stirring every 20 minutes

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SERVING INSPIRATIONS

Salt and pepper to taste, serve over pasta (above), make meatball subs (below), or simply in a bowl with toothpicks as a party snack (top photo).

 

Topping it with fresh basil leaves and shredded parmesan adds beauty and flavor!

Recipe & Photo Credit:  Cathy Menees

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COOK'S NOTES

INGREDIENTS

 

*2 cans of tomatoes is enough, but if you like to have extra sauce, use 3 cans.  Try to find a good brand of diced tomatoes that doesn’t add sugar and salt to maintain the nutritious aspect of this dish, and control your own flavor.  For the meatballs, I use a blend of ground beef and pork as adds more depth of flavor, but you can of course use 100% of either one.

TIMING

 

Get your sauce going first so that it’s warmed and ready for you to add the meatballs.

KITCHEN BUDDIES

 

The Wonderbag is a superstar here.  We all know that a tomato-based sauce gets better with time, so just leave it in the bag all day and go do something else!!

 

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