Living on my own as a, ya know, grown-up these days, I sometimes really miss my mom’s home cooking. I feel like that’s especially hit me this week, in the form of homemade Italian food and grilled cheese sandwiches.
Freak reaction from running the LB half? I have no idea.
For years I steered clear of trying to replicate any of my mom’s staple dishes, but I think that needs to change. I mean, eventually (eveeeeentually) I’ll probably have a house and a family and people who I’ll want to spread that same Italian food love to, right? My mom probably can’t mail me frozen containers of sauce and meatballs when I’m 40. I think.
And plus, I just wanted some dang meatballs this week!
SO, I took my mom’s traditional recipe and headed into the kitchen Wednesday night with the intention of making a slightly healthified and quicker cooking version, referring slightly to Andi’s meatball recipe for some measurement specifications. My mom and grandmas cook by “feel” aka something I don’t yet have when making the more authentic Italian dishes unsupervised (unless it’s baked ziti).
My mom usually uses half pork and half beef, but I made all beef ones because that’s what I prefer.
They look like an ugly mess here, I know, but sometimes the most delicious stuff is the hardest to photograph.
The secret ingredient is really the Italian breadcrumbs! It helps keep the meatballs moist. If you don’t have Italian breadcrumbs or can’t find them in your local store, just add a hearty sprinkling of Italian seasonings (you can find this in the spices aisle at most grocery stores).
And what do you know? They were delish!
I mean, they didn’t taste identical to my mom’s cooking (what could?), but gosh they hit the spot.
If you’re planning to make a big pot of pasta sauce (like a bolognese), you could also cook these babies by dropping them straight into the pot of sauce and cooking for a couple of hours, like my mom always does. I was feeling impatient and had some sauce already prepared, which is why I just pan-fried them. That also helps make ‘em a little crispy, too.
I’ve been enjoying the leftovers for lunch as a homemade (and healthier!) meatball sub.
I hope you like them! Comfort food fo’ sho, extra good on a Friday. Happy weekend!
Italian Meatballs (Pan-Fried)
- nonstick olive oil spray
- 1 pound ground beef (I used 90-10, but you could also do 85-15)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2-3 tbsp Italian breadcrumbs
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- sprinkling of minced garlic, to taste
- ~2 tsp grated Parmesan/Romano cheese (optional)
- 1/2 – 1 cup marinara sauce
1. In a large bowl, break apart the beef with your hands. Pour the egg over the ground beef, and add the breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, garlic, and (if you like) grated cheese.
2. Using your hands, mix the beef mixture in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well combined (do not over-mix).
3. Form the meat mixture into 12-15 small balls using your hands. Add the meatballs to a large pan coated with nonstick spay, and place over medium-low heat. Note: spray liberally (or use 1 tbsp olive oil instead) so that the meatballs don’t stick to the pan.
4. Cook meatballs until completely cooked (i.e., no longer visibly pink), turning gently occasionally so as to cook all sides. In the last few moments of cooking, add enough sauce to cover the meatballs. Serve warm, alongside pasta or vegetables.
Makes 15 meatballs
(62 calories per meatball)
What’s your favorite home-cooked meal that you had growing up? Do you cook it yourself now?