Introduction: Italian Meatballs

About: Matthew was previously a STEAM integrator with a private K-8 school. He loves taking things apart to see how they work, and will sometimes put those things back together. Much of his time is spent working with…

My great-grandmother passed this recipe down to her next generation, and it's kept going from there. My mom taught it to me when I started college, and now, anytime I want to make meatballs for anything, this is the recipe I go to. My Great-Grandmother came over on a boat from Italy, and I've done my best to preserve the directions she gave (as I heard them).

This is a super simple recipe, and it's very quick to prepare.

Step 1: Ingredients and Tools

The original recipe calls for:
Two pounds of shredded beef (the leaner the better) // (for the pictures, I used chicken (trying to be a little healthy))
Two eggs (medium sized)
Two pieces of whole wheat bread (wet and rung out)
One heaping cup of Parmesan Cheese (grated)

Cooking utensils / tools needed:
Oven (preheated to 350 degrees)
Cookie Sheet (having two works nicely, letting you prep one while the other is cooking)
Bowl for mixing (make sure it's big enough for all of the ingredients)
Spatula (unless you want to pick up cooked meatballs with your fingers)
Oven Mitt (see spatula, and replace "cooked meatballs" with "a hot pan")
Measuring cup (One cup)

Step 2: Prepping the Bread

Put shredded beef into your mixing bowl. Set aside.

Preheat oven to Bake at 350 degrees.

Grab one of your whole wheat slices of toast. Hold it under a running faucet. Once toast is sufficiently wet (think of a sponge that absorbs all the water it can), ring it out as much as you can into the sink. Once you're finished ringing it out, no water should be dripping from it, and toast should feel damp.

Repeat for second slice.

Step 3: Putting It All Together

Return to mixing bowl.

Crumble damp toast over shredded beef.

Crack eggs into bowl, over beef and toast.
(I would suggest cracking eggs into a separate bowl first, just to make sure you don't get any pieces of egg shell into the meat that you can't find. If you trust yourself cracking eggs though, there is no need to dirty the extra bowl)

Pour one heaping cup of Parmesan Cheese into the bowl with everything else.

Step 4: Mixing

Once everything is in the bowl, it's time to start mixing it all together.

This is done with your hands, and I must stress this, as it was stressed to me when I was taught. This must be done with your hands.

The technique I was taught is similar to kneading bread dough (though, without throwing flour down on the table). Just fold the meat over itself, and squish together. Turn the bowl a little and repeat.

Continue this process until everything is mixed well.

Step 5: Rolling Meatballs

Once everything is mixed thoroughly it's time to roll meatballs.

Grab an amount of meat the size you want the meatball to be. Mine tend to be between one and two inches in diameter depending on how I'm feeling when making them.

Once the meat is grabbed, roll it onto a ball and place on cookie sheet. Meatballs will grow a very small amount when cooking, so don't place them too close together.

Repeat the process, making all meatballs the same approximate size. Once the cookie sheet is full, place into oven.

Step 6: Bake and Retrieve

Once cookie sheet is full, place into oven.

Set kitchen time for 15 minutes (or remember to check 15 minutes after you put them in).

When time is up, retrieve meatballs. (This is a good time to use that oven mitt)

If you're worried about undercooked meat, or that you haven't left them in the oven long enough. The easiest way to check, is to cut one meatball in two so you can check the middle. If the middle is cooked in one, it's cooked in the rest. If they're not yet done, put them back in the oven for five more minutes and check another meatball when you pull them back out. The larger your meatballs, the longer the cook time will be.

Step 7: Enjoy

Spatula meatballs onto a plate or into a Tupperware for serving later.

When making larger batches, throw a bunch in the freezer and save them for a future date (I've kept mine in the freezer for months without any problems). Just take them out and microwave, or get them warm in the oven again and serve.

These meatballs can be eaten solo (I think they're quite good), or sliced onto a lasagna, or placed whole with a spaghetti. However you decide to enjoy them, so long as you do!