Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Mmmmm, nothing like heart-warming meatballs in tomato sauce on a Sunday afternoon lunch with the family. Of course, like many old-time-y dishes, there are a thousand ways to make your meatballs, and this is my way. You can serve this with spaghetti, or over some good hearty bread, or even with some polenta, and you can pretty much adjust almost every aspect of this recipe to suit your individual taste.

To make this recipe, for 5-6 people, you will need:
  • About 900 grams of beef, or beef and pork mix if you prefer
  • 1/3 cup of breadcrumbs (about 50 grams)
  • 1/2 cup of milk (whole milk is best)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • A few tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, depending on your taste, finely chopped
  • One tablespoon of parsley
  • One tablespoon of basil
  • 3 tablespoons of grated parmesan
  • 2 teaspoons of salt 
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper

The first thing we need to do is to soak the breadcrumbs in the milk for about 20 minutes, in a large mixing bowl.

While the breadcrumbs are soaking up the milk, saute your diced onions and finely chopped garlic in a bit of olive oil until they get a nice colour, set them aside.

After 20 minutes, your breadcrumbs and milk should have formed a pasty mixture. 

Into your breadcrumb-milk paste, add the garlic/onion sautee, the herbs, the parmesan, the salt and pepper, and the eggs.

Mix well with a fork to get a nice homogenous paste.

Now add the meat into the bowl.

Rinse your hands in some cold water and then mix everything together, using your hands. By rinsing them in cold water, it helps prevent the meat from sticking between your fingers.

You don't have to do this step if you don't have time, but it is a good idea to cover the bowl with some cling wrap and store the mix in the fridge for about 30 mins. This lets the beef rest, soak up some of the moisture and flavours, and will help make it easier to manage when forming the meat balls.

To form the meatballs, again rinse your hands in cold water, and just take a chuck of the mix with your fingers and roll it between your palms. Do not press too hard, and do not overwork; once the form is made, set them aside.

Lightly spread some oil on a tin-foil covered baking tray and lay out your meatballs for baking.

Bake the meatballs at 220 degrees C (425 F) for 15 minutes.

While the meatballs are baking, you can use the time to make your tomato sauce, but don't forget to take them out of the oven after 15 minutes! If your sauce isn't ready, they can rest on the counter.

Once your tomato sauce is done and your meatballs are out of the oven, carefully place your meatballs in your tomato sauce.

Let the meatballs braise in the sauce for 1 to 2 hours, partially covered.

Just before serving, I like to place the meatballs in an oven dish, sprinkle some parmesan on top, and pop it in the oven at 180C for 10 minutes.

You can serve them over spaghetti if you like, or with some hearty Italian bread, rice or even polenta.

*Note: Refer to the Simple Pasta Tomato Sauce page for a tomato sauce recipe.

As with all the other recipes we put on this site, this is meant to be easy to follow. We are hobby chefs who love to cook, and we are always up for learning new techniques. If you know of anything in this recipe which can be done a different way, whether for increased ease of preparation or better taste, please add a comment below!

Whipped up by Shyamal Addanki

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