Your Nonna’s Meatballs

There are meatballs … and then there are your Nonna’s meatballs. There are so many ways to make meatballs, in fact we have a few recipes up on our site. But then there are the meatballs you grew up with. Made with love in the kitchen on Sundays by your Nonna. The meatballs that not only serve as Sunday dinner but also have the power to bring back sweet memories of a kitchen full of love, warmth and an indulgence of aromas and tingles all your senses at the very first bite.

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I was born and raised in Calabria, Italy. On Sundays we would always get in the car with my dad and step mom and head to my Nonnas house in the mountains. The thirty minute and treacherously winding road trip was so worth it because as soon as we entered Nonna’s one room living room AND kitchen the aroma of Sunday dinner enveloped us.

Nonno & Nonna

My Nonna and Nonno lived in the mountains. They grew all of their food and only would buy the necessary items you couldn’t grow from a truck that would come by once a week and sold them items like toilet paper etc. They had alllll the animals but the goats would provide them with most everything they needed. They used the goat skin, the milk, made ricotta, ate the goat meat and goat cheese was EVERYWHERE. The thing I remember most from Sundays at Nonnas was the amount of goat cheese were in those meatballs! We now can move on from those days and just use good ole’ Parmesean cheese but if you are a goat cheese lover feel free to add that to the mix!

My Nonno & Nonna in Calabria, Italy

Past + Present

Recently it was a girlfriends birthday. I had just had surgery and was racking my brain with how I could do something to celebrate her when it hit me. What better way to show someone you care than teaching them how to make meatballs! Of course I had to call in the reinforcements a.k.a. my chef mom.

It was so nice to have a chef right there watching us make the meatballs and teaching us little tips and tricks. One trick was to use an ice cream scoop to make the meatballs more uniform. Then we learned to have a small bowl of water so that we can wet our hands before rolling the meatballs (we also learned we should only roll one way for the most uniformed looking meatballs).

A great thing to do is to double or even triple the recipe below and then once your meatballs are rolled out freeze them! We had such a fun time cooking together in the kitchen and I set up a little charcuterie to kind of nibble at while we were cooking together and it was such a memorable night sharing memories of the past while making memories a new.

I hope you try making these meatballs and if you do share them with us! Also if you have pictures of your Nonna making meatballs in the kitchen we would LOVE to see those too! You can comment on the recipe below or you can always contact us at www.thebestofitalian.com.

Polpette di Nonna

Recipe by Bianca DeMasi

There are meatballs ... and then there are meatballs. There are so many ways to make meatballs, in fact we have a few recipes up on our site. But then there are the meatballs you grew up with. Made with love in the kitchen on Sundays by your Nonna. The meatballs that not only serve as Sunday dinner but also have the power to bring back sweet memories of a kitchen full of love, warmth and an indulgence of aromas and tingles all your senses at the very first bite.

Ingredients

  • 1lb 85% 15% Ground beef

  • ½ lb of ground pork 

  • One long sleeve Ritz crackers

  • ½ cup Plain Bread crumbs (not panko and not seasoned)

  • Whole Milk

  • About ½ lb grated cheese (LOTS of grated parmesan cheese)

  • Salt & pepper to taste

  • One Egg

  • Your favorite red sauce

Directions

  • Make sure you have a large pot of tomato sauce on the stove lightly boiling
  • Mix the ritz crackers & bread crumbs in a small bowl with milk until it reaches an “oatmeal” consistency
  • Add all other ingredients into a bowl including the cracker mixture
  • Get your hands dirty! Mix all ingredients together starting from the bottom of the bowl to ensure you mix all the ingredients together.
  • Use larger ice cream scooper to make uniformly sized balls, portion them out and roll into round ball meat shape
    *best to roll always going one way -clockwise-*
  • TIP: Dip fingers in water to allow the hands to be free from sticking to your hand before each meatball "roll"
  • Place shaped meatball in the hot sauce for about 30 minutes and then check one meatball to make sure they are no longer pink inside.
  • Buon Appetito!

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