Even though I know I don't look particularly Italian, my Nonna was from northern Italy and moved to the UK when she was 19, much like me moving to the USA at the same age.
Like most Nonna's she was the most incredible cook. Anytime you would go to her house, she would be cooking in the kitchen, and made sure to offer you, or force you, to eat a sandwich. She would wake up and start making dinner. Her passion for good food, and produce was intoxicating and I spent hours with her in the kitchen cooking together as a child.
These meatballs particularly rubbed off on me, and I've been making them and perfecting them for years to taste just like hers. So I wanted to finally share her recipe for it with you all now. The perfect meatball, tender, juicy, flavorful and simple to make. I promise it will convert any meatball haters and you will make these time and time again for your loved ones.
They are also versatile, sometimes I put them with spaghetti the classic way for clients, sometimes I make them over whipped ricotta with grilled ciabatta garlic bread, and sometimes I make them with organic ground turkey instead and put them over some roasted spaghetti squash.
Here's how to make them:
1lb organic ground beef 80/20 (or ground turkey)
1/2 yellow onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 egg lightly beaten
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (or gluten free breadcrumbs)
1 tsp Italian seasoning
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce (my secret ingredient)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup water (Nonna's secret ingredient)
Extra virgin Olive oil
Start off with a large bowl and add in your ground beef, minced onion, garlic, ricotta, breadcrumb, egg, Parmesan, Worcestershire sauce and seasonings.
Now add in the little bit of water and stir until just combined, but be sure not to over mix.
Time to roll out your meatballs!
I like to use a regular size spoon, scoop out the same amount of mixture each time and roll with your hands to form balls. They should all be the same size. This should make around 12 meatballs.
Now it's time to sear them in a hot cast iron skillet with a generous guzzle of olive oil.
Sear for 3 minutes or so on each side over a high heat until browned.
Now you can put the whole skillet in to the oven at 375 F for another 10-15 minutes until they finish cooking.
Meanwhile, you can make your own marinara sauce with San marzano tomatoes or a burt baby tomatoes which I will post in a different post, or you can use a jar or two of good quality marinara sauce.
Add the meatballs in to the marinara sauce and let them continue to simmer for 20-30 minutes minimum, to infuse the flavor in to the sauce.
Now top with Parmesan cheese and serve with fresh basil over your favorite pasta. Or roasted spaghetti squash. Or you can even cover the skillet in fresh mozzarella and bake it for a little longer in the oven until bubbly and melted to be extra decadent. But whatever you do with them, I promise they will be the best meatballs you've ever tasted, thanks to Nonna!