How to Choose Meat for Italian Meatballs
When it comes to making grandma’s authentic Italian meatballs, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind. For example, you need to have all the ingredients and equipment.
The most important part of the process is knowing how to choose Italian meatballs. Next, you must know how to prepare it. If you get these steps wrong, your meatballs will be dry and flavorless.
To choose the meat for Italian meatballs, first, you have to look for a good cut of beef. A tender part with enough fat is best, so avoid any cuts from the shank or round. The meat should also not be too lean as this will cause it to track when cooking.
Use either ground pork or boneless country-style ribs for pork to make your Italian meatballs. If you are using ground pork, make sure that the meat is not too lean; otherwise, adding some fat (such as pancetta) will be necessary to keep it moist and tender. Ground pork with a high-fat percentage makes an excellent choice for Italian meatball recipes.
We’ll look at how to make Italian meatballs, and all you need to know about this delectable dish in this blog post.
Let’s get started!
Our Special Notes on the Best Italian Meatballs
- The quality of the meat is essential. You don’t want to choose a tough cut of beef for your Italian meatballs. Try to find an excellent, lean ground beef or pork.
- Be sure to season your meatballs with plenty of salt, pepper, and herbs. This will add flavor and ensure that they are juicy and delicious.
- Don’t overmix the meat. The meat will get dense and tough if you mix it too much. Mix just until everything is combined.
- Fry your meatballs in a small amount of oil to ensure they are crispy outside and tender inside.
- Serve your Italian meatballs with a delicious sauce and some pasta or rice.
- The most important part of making the best Italian meatballs is using quality ingredients, especially when it comes to the meat. Most people use beef or pork for their base, but many recipes call for a mixture because it gives more flavor and richness to the dish. You can also use veal if you want something extra special.
- Now that we’ve covered the basics let’s dig deeper into the history of Italian-style meatballs.
A Brief History on Easy Italian Meatballs
In Roman times, people invented the Italian meatballs when the Romans stuffed grape leaves with ground meat and spices. Around 1000 AD, Arabian cooks made a dish called kebabs, which were meat roasted on skewers. When they moved into Europe, they brought along this recipe.
As time went on, Europeans began to add ingredients such as onions and breadcrumbs to help bind the mixture together and eat them with their hands without making a mess. In 1490, Catherine de Medici asked a cook from Bologna to come to France to have her favorite dishes prepared for her by Italian chefs.
Among the dishes prepared was an Italian version of meatballs. European immigrants to America brought many traditional recipes when they searched for a better life in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
New York has become famous for its meatball style known as “Italian” or “American.” People use the term “Italian” for spaghetti and meatballs rather than individual balls, which people also refer to as hamburgers or round steak when served alone.
During World War I, meatballs became trendy when they rationed out meat, but ground beef could be bought inexpensively at local butcher shops to make food for families.
Many women found this process too labor-intensive because after mixing all the ingredients, they had to roll them into balls and brown them in oil. Then they had to cook them either on top of the stove or in an oven for several hours.
Grandma’s Authentic Italian Meatball Recipe
Everyone has their own favorite best beef meatball recipe, and you’re no different. This is grandma’s version of traditional Italian-American style meatballs, though not 100% authentic.
We hope you enjoy it!
Yield: 10 servings
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 2 Hours
Nutritional Facts/Info per serving/in total
Cholesterol: 125 mg
Sodium: 569 mg
Fiber: 0.04oz (1g)
Sugar: 0.04oz (1g)
Protein: 0.95oz (27g)
- Cheese grater
You’ll need the following meatball ingredients for this recipe:
- 1/4 Cup chopped onion (roughly 1/2 a small onion)
- 1/2 Tbsp oregano leaves (dried) or 2 tsp fresh oregano leaves, finely chopped or 1 tsp dried oregano, and 1 tsp of finely chopped fresh oregano leaves.
- 3 cloves of garlic finely minced with a knife
- Pepper to taste (approx three turns on pepper mill). You can add more if desired
- 12 oz (170 g) Uncooked spaghetti for each batch
- Spaghetti is traditional, but you can choose any kind of pasta.
- Ground beef (chuck steak works too). Approx 1 lb (0.45kg) for 4 servings
- Parmesan cheese (optional)
Here are directions for preparing an authentic Italian meatball recipe:
- Prepare the sauce first by chopping vegetables and meat.
- Then, begin boiling water for spaghetti or other pasta.
- Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil (or butter if desired) in a large saucepot until translucent.
- Add ground beef to the pot and sauté over medium-high heat until almost completely browned.
- Drain off excess fat/oil using a colander or by tilting the pan, so it pools in one area.
- Continue to sauté over medium-high heat until beef is entirely brown.
- Add red wine (optional but recommended) and stir.
- Continue cooking for 2-3 minutes to allow some of the alcohol in the wine to evaporate, then add crushed tomatoes, mushrooms, sugar (helps cut acidity), oregano, salt, and pepper.
- Stir well into the meat mixture; bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat down to simmer. Maintain a gentle simmer.
- While sauce is simmering and pasta or other noodles are cooking, start browning meatballs.
- In a large skillet (preferably a “stovetop safe” pan, which can go from stove to oven), add a small amount of olive oil/butter, then tip the pan so that the oil coats the bottom evenly.
- Over medium-high heat, take 1/4 cup measuring cup and fill it with raw meat mixture. Then level off (try not to compress it too much) and drop into hot skillet; repeat until there’s enough room to make about 8-10 at a time in one layer without them touching (about three batches depending on the size of skillet).
- Cook for another 8-9 minutes over medium-high heat, turning halfway through, or until meatballs are browned and cooked through; if required, add more oil/butter. (NOTE: If the sauce is ready before the meatballs, lower the burner temperature to medium-low while working on them.)
- Drop cooked and drained spaghetti noodles into the sauce (or other pasta of choice); stir well, then return covered pot to a gentle simmer.
- You can either leave the stovetop uncovered and switch it off while you serve dinner OR if it’s too messy, just continue simmering with the lid partially cracked open so that steam can escape. Be sure not to overcook spaghetti.
- The sauce will have reduced somewhat as spaghetti soaks up some of the liquid. Add a little beef stock or water if the sauce gets too thick; if it’s not thick enough, let it boil uncovered for a minute or two.
- Serve your easy Italian meatballs with Parmesan cheese and Italian bread (optional). We like garlic bread and Caesar salad.
Cloudy With a Chance of Italian Meatballs
Grandma’s meatballs are delicious with garlic bread and Italian salad if you use a classic meatball recipe. We recommend that you serve them with spaghetti, but any kind of pasta or spaghetti squash works excellently.
You can use ground chuck steak, if desired, for a more traditional taste; however, ground beef is fine and makes less expensive meatballs (less fat).