Italian Meatballs

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INGREDIENTS

Meatballs

1 pound ground beef 

1 pound ground pork 

1 large egg, beaten

1 tablespoon salt, plus more for “to taste” seasoning 

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes 

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or Larder Meat Co. Italian Herb Blend

1 cup freshly grated parmesan 

1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

1 cup of unseasoned fine bread crumbs

1 small head of fresh fennel bulb, minced 

1/2 medium yellow onion, minced 

6 cloves garlic, minced

Marinara Sauce

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 pound diced bacon, pancetta, guanciale, or salami trim 

2 large yellow onions, diced

4 large garlic cloves, smashed and minced

2 cans (28oz each) whole San Marzano tomatoes

1 small can (6oz) of tomato paste 

Kosher Salt to taste

Garnish

Italian parsley, fresh oregano, parmesan, extra virgin olive oil 

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place the first 10 ingredients in a large mixing bowl. 
  3. Sauté minced fennel and onion until soft and onion is translucent. Add a few pinches of salt and the garlic. Sauté until you smell the garlic, then remove from the heat and chill in your refrigerator. 
  4. Thoroughly mix the meatball ingredients in the mixing bowl with clean hands. When the sautéed onion mixture is cool, add this to the mixing bowl. The more you mix, the firmer/more dense your meatballs will become, so try to mix as lightly as possible and keep the meat as cool as possible while mixing. 
  5. Roll the meatball mixture into golf ball sized rounds and place on a cookie sheet or other flat surface while you work. Continue until all of the meat is shaped into balls and refrigerate while you work on the marinara sauce. 
  6. Sauté the bacon, pancetta, guanciale, or salami trim in the oil until it is lightly browned and add the onion. Sauté until onion is translucent. Add the garlic. 
  7. When you smell the garlic add the canned tomatoes and bring to a simmer. 
  8. Allow the sauce to simmer for an hour or so while you finish the meatballs. Use a stiff whisk to macerate the tomatoes during the cooking process.
  9. Add the tomato paste, whisk to incorporate, and then check for seasoning. When you are happy with the seasoning, set the sauce on a low burner. 
  10. To cook the meatballs, you can sauté them in batches and finish by baking them in a rimmed baking dish. Or, my preferred method, place each ball in lightly greased wells of a cupcake sheet pan, turning the meatballs over half way through cooking to evenly brown the surface. You’ll notice that the balls will self-baste while cooking in the cupcake wells.
  11. Cook the meatballs for about 15 minutes at 375 or until the internal temperature is about 140 degrees. 
  12. Finish by simmering them in the marinara sauce for a few more minutes. 
  13. To serve, arrange the meatballs in a serving platter with some of the marinara and shave the parmesan over the top. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and small handful of freshly chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley.