Sometimes I wish I were Italian and had a family cookbook of heirloom Italian recipes brought over by a great grandmother from the old country who shared her secrets with her daughters who taught them to their daughters who in turn passed them on to future generations.
But, sadly, I am not Italian. Not one little bit.
Fortunately, my Aunt Grace married an Italian man from Philadelphia, who brought his family’s Italian meatball recipe into our family. Thank you, Uncle Ed.
I serve these meatballs with spaghetti on a regular basis. As someone who has messed up a lot of meals in the past, when I say this recipe is easy, I mean it. I have never had a problem with this recipe. Even when I’ve realized I didn’t have enough of a particular ingredient, or forgot one, it has still turned out tasty. Even when I’ve overcooked the meatballs a little, they’ve still tasted good once they’re covered in spaghetti sauce.
For example, when I was preparing the meatballs one night and discovered I had only half as much breadcrumbs as I needed, I used matzo meal (kept around for matzo soup) to complete the measurement and added a little bit of Italian seasoning. The meatballs tasted fine. And when I forgot to add any parmesan cheese, the meatballs tasted fine. When I cooked them almost to a crisp because I suddenly got worried about the meat being raw, in spite of having made them a dozen times before with no problem, the meatballs tasted fine. When I’ve used a lean grade of beef or a fattier grade of beef, the meatballs have tasted fine.
You get the message. These meatballs turn out fine, in spite of my best efforts to mess them up.
The recipe below is easily doubled—in fact, the original recipe my mom gave me was double these amounts. Making it my way, you’ll get between 20 and 24 meatballs. If you double the recipe, you’ll have enough to freeze for another meal.
1 lb ground beef
¾ cup Italian breadcrumbs (or use oatmeal or matzo meal and 1 T Italian seasoning)
1 tsp garlic powder
¼ to ½ cup grated parmesan
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
Mix ingredients well. Place teaspoon-size meatballs on a baking sheet. (You may wish to use one with a rim as the meatballs will release grease.) Bake at 400 degrees for 12–15 minutes.