How to make meatballs

Anthony Bourdain AP

From “Anthony Bourdain’s Hungry Ghosts”

Classic meatballs

  • 3 tablespoons plus ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 white onion, peeled and very finely chopped to yield about 2 cups
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3 sprigs oregano leaves, finely chopped
  • 3 sprigs thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • 10 sprigs Italian parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 ½ cups white wine
  • 1 cup prepared tomato sauce
  • 4 ounces grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

In a large sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium heat, warm 3 tablespoons olive oil for a minute or two, then add the onions, garlic, oregano, thyme, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for just a few minutes, until the onions are limp and translucent but before anything begins to brown. You just want to take the bite off the raw vegetables and herbs before adding them to the meatball mixture. Remove the pan from the heat, transfer the mixture to a large bowl, and wash the pan, which you’ll reuse to cook the meatballs themselves.

To the mixing bowl with the onions, add the ground meats, breadcrumbs, eggs, and a moderate amount of salt and pepper to season. (If you like, you can safely test the seasoning by cooking a small patty of the mixture in a pan with a bit of oil before tasting and adjusting as desired.) Gently mix it all together by hand—you don’t want to crush it together too much, which will result in very dense and heavy meatballs—and form the mixture into approximately 25 two-inch meatballs. Arrange them on a sheet tray or platter, cover with plastic wrap, and let chill in the refrigerator for at least 15 and up to 60 minutes.

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Preheat the oven to 400F and remove the meatballs from the refrigerator. If they are refrigerated, let the white wine and tomato sauce come to room temperature while the oven heats up and you sear the meatballs, as per below.

Heat the remaining ¼ cup oil in the sauté pan or Dutch oven and, working in batches, add the meatballs to the pan, take care not to overcrowd it. Sear the meatballs on all sides, gently turning them with tongs and/or a metal spatula, and adding more oil if necessary to keep meatballs from scorching or sticking. As they are cooked, remove the meatballs to a roasting pan large enough to hold them all in a single layer.

Pour the wine and the tomato sauce over the meatballs; the liquid should reach about halfway up the sides of the meatballs. The liquid will become more concentrated, and the volatile alcohol will cook off in the oven. Carefully transfer the pan to the center rack of the oven and cook, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, until the interior of a meatball is 150F, according to an instant-read thermometer. Remove the meatballs to a serving bowl, pour the sauce over, and serve.

Serves 6 to 8, with ostensible leftovers.

How to make the Best Meatballs

These meatballs are so easy to put together. The secret to making these meatballs flavorful is the Italian seasoned bread crumbs. We’re also adding egg to help hold them together, this helps the meatballs from breaking apart while cooking.

Searing the meatballs before making the sauce ensures we get the most flavor possible.

And make sure you get in there and mix it together with your hands, a spoon isn’t going to cut it.

Large Skillet with noodles drenched in homemade spaghetti sauce

How to make Spaghetti Sauce

Once the meatballs are seared on all sides we can add the ingredients for the sauce.

Start by sauteing onion with the meatballs to soften them.

Add in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and seasonings. Let it all simmer together for about 20 minutes. The longer it simmers the more flavorful the sauce will be.

A plate piled with noodles, homemade spaghetti sauce and meatballs.

Then the last step is adding the noodles! You can either add the noodles to the sauce and stir together, let it sit at a low heat for a few minutes. I feel this infuses more flavor to the noodles. Or you can serve the noodles with the sauce spooned on top. Either way, this will be a huge hit for the entire family!

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