Makes 8 gigantic meatballs
On any given day I can call Bimpy up and ask him what he’s doing, and he is most likely to reply “making meatballs?” in a tone that questions the audacity of my question. Bimpy’s meatballs were a part of every single meal our family ate at his house. I learned a lot from watching him make them, and as I began cooking my own meatballs in my early 20s, I kept a lot of what he taught me in my recipe (like the raisins, which are an old Sicilian meatball tradition) and added a few elements of my own. If you are new here, this is basically how all my recipes come to be: a respect for at the past with a dash of the present.
I have made these meatballs one million times, but when asked for the recipe I would say “sorry, it’s all in my head” like a classic Nonna who just cannot be bothered with measurements. I have spent an extra amount of care to test the measurements in this recipe, as I wanted to make sure I had it perfect! In reality, though, my hope is always that you take my recipes and make them your own, just like I did here with Bimpy’s recipe.Print
What You’ll Need
- Grossy’s Marinara
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef (85% lean because we need that fat)
- 1 1/2 pounds ground pork
- 1 1/2 cups Homemade Breadcrumbs or store-bought panko breadcrumbs
- Large handful chopped fresh basil leaves
- Large handful chopped fresh mint leaves
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- 1 cup raisins
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 8 cups Grossy’s Marinara or store-bought marinara sauce
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Cooked pasta of your choice, such as spaghetti, for serving
- Garlic bread, for serving (optional)
What You’ll Do
- In a large bowl, combine the beef and pork, breaking up the meat as you add it. Add the breadcrumbs, basil, mint, Parmesan, raisins, eggs, salt, black pepper, and pepper flakes and use your hands to mix until all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Divide the mixture evenly and round it into 8 firmly packed meatballs, each about the size of a baseball. (I told you, these are gigantic!)
- In a large pot, heat the marinara, covered, over low heat.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add half the meatballs. Cook, turning occasionally, until crispy and dark on the outside, about 10 minutes total. Immediately transfer the meatballs to the pot of marinara. Submerging them in the sauce, re cover the pot, and continue simmering. Repeat with the remaining meatballs.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and add a few ladles of marinara to it. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom, then pour the marinara back into the pot with the meatballs.
- Again, check that your meatball children are fully submerged, then replace the lid, tell them you love them, and wish them luck. Simmer for about 20 minutes; the only way to know if your meatballs are fully cooked is to discreetly cut into one to see its center. If it’s just barely pink, you are there.
- Spoon both the meatballs and marinara over a bowl of pasta and sprinkle with more Parmesan. Serve with a plate of garlic bread for ultimate joy, if you like.
Note: Bimpy literally makes one hundred meatballs regularly just to freeze. If you want to be like Bimpy, do so before you drop the meatballs into the sauce. After searing, let cool completely, then place them in a zip-top bag and freeze. When you are ready to use them, defrost overnight in the refrigerator, then proceed with the marinara simmer to finish cooking and warm through
Make it step by step with me:
You are gonna need a big bowl!
1. Break up your ground meat into chunks in bowl. You need 3 lbs of ground meat for this recipe. I typically use 1 ½ lbs ground beef (around 85% lean because we need that fat) and 1 ½ lbs ground pork.
Sometimes I do a mix of beef, pork, and veal.
Sometimes I do all beef.
I never do all ground turkey, but if I were, I would most definitely add some schmaltz to the recipe so that the meatballs are not dry.
2. Prep the rest of your ingredients for your meatballs:
1 ½ cups plain panko
Large handful of chopped fresh basil
Large handful of chopped fresh mint
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup raisins
1 teaspoon kosher salt,
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3. Add everything to the bowl with your meat.
4. Using your clean hands, mix everything together so that all ingredients are evenly distributed. If you are a true Pelosi, you will breathe very heavily during this step.
5. This is what evenly distributed ingredients look like. Now I am going to remind you, like I always do, to not stress. Especially about the raisins. They like to stick together in clusters and sometimes we just let them. They have been through enough already! They used to be grapes for crying out loud!!!
6. Ok, now hear this: I like big balls. The drama of a giant meatball is just one of my greatest joys in life. I really would be so happy if you also joined me in this. Your dinner guests will have a blast with it as well!
I use my hands to make 8 firmly packed meatballs.
If you want to betray me (and Bimpy) go ahead and make them smaller, whatever makes you happy!
7. Place your balls in a HOT frying pan set on medium heat with a little drizzle of olive oil in pan. They should immediately start to sizzle.
8. This is the fun part. Every few minutes, you get to turn your balls around in the pan, making sure that every side of the ball gets nice and crispy and dark. I like to go extra dark here as it adds the most flavor for me.
9. Your balls should be nice and crispy on all sides. There will still be some pink spots here and there and that’s ok, we are not fully cooking the balls here! That will happen when they swim in the marinara.
10. Speaking of marinara, as noted above, you should have a nice pot of marina (preferably Grossy’s Marinara) ready to go here!
11. Bring your meatballs and marinara close together and begin dropping your meatballs into your sauce.
12. All I could ever ask for my children is that they have a better life than mine, and this always makes me so emotional.
13. Fully submerge your meatball children in your marinara and wish them luck. Don’t forget to tell them you love them.
14. Cover your sauce and place the pot on the stove to simmer. As the sauce simmers, the flavors of the meatballs will infuse into the sauce, taking it to a place you have never thought possible. Your meatballs will also fully cook through and stay nice and moist.
The only way to know your meatballs are cooked fully is to grab one and discreetly cut into it to see the center. If it’s just barely pink, you are in the right zone.
When you are ready to eat, serve over pasta and sprinkle with parmesan cheese! Heaven!
If you want to freeze your meatballs, it is best to do this BEFORE you place them in the sauce. Simply let them cook and place them in a Ziploc bag to freeze. When you are ready to use them, defrost slightly and then drop into a pot of marinara to finish cooking and warm though. Truly one of the best meals for your freezer. Bimpy quite literally makes 100 meatballs regularly just to freeze.
Enjoy, you meatballs!