Smothered Italian Meatballs Marinara

meatball marinara tastefood

Posted by Lynda Balslev

Now that it’s behaving like fall outside, I find myself making a b-line to the meat stalls at the farmers market. Sure, I’ll be stuffing my bags with apples, mushrooms, kale, and persimmons later – but first I want some meat, because when it’s cold and rainy, I crave hearty warming dinners like meaty stews and slow-cooked braises. Last weekend I purchased  a few kilos of ground beef and pork from a local ranch to throw in the freezer for (another) rainy day, but not before setting aside a few pounds to cook for dinner. It was only 8:00 in the morning and I already knew what I would be making that afternoon – comforting meatballs smothered in marinara sauce.

Smothered Italian Meatballs in Marinara Sauce

The key ingredient in this recipe is a generous amount of grated Pecorino Romano cheese, which melts into the meat and adds rich, salty flavor. A kick of crushed red chile pepper doesn’t hurt either. (You can reduce the red pepper if you prefer a milder version.)

1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup breadcrumbs or Panko
1 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon marjoram

Marinara Sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 (28-ounce) can crushed Italian plum tomatoes
1 (15-ounce can) Italian plum tomatoes with juice
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil for pan frying
Finely chopped Italian parsley
Grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese

Prepare the meatballs:
Combine the meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Using your hands, gently mix until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Shape the meat into 1 1/2-inch balls, without over working the meat. (Wet your hands with cold water from time to time to prevent sticking.) Place the meatballs on a platter and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Prepare the sauce:
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered until thickened, about 30 minutes.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs in batches, without over crowding, and brown, turning as needed, about 5 minutes. (The meatballs will not be cooked through at this point. They will continue to cook in the sauce.) Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining meatballs.

Add the sauce to the skillet and cook briefly over medium heat, stirring up any brown bits in the pan. Add the meatballs to the sauce and turn to coat. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until the meatballs are thoroughly cooked through, about 30 minutes. Serve with garnished with chopped parsley and grated cheese.

Tip: Got leftovers? Crumble any leftover meatballs into the sauce and serve over pasta or layer into lasagna.

9 responses to “Smothered Italian Meatballs Marinara

  1. They look really appetizing! A delicious and comforting dish.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  2. Love this! We’ve had a touch of rain and so it really does feel like fall now. Voluptuous with flavor and hearty enough to satisfy at the end of a busy day.

  3. Wonderful meal for this chilly weather!

  4. Your recipe is very similar to my mother-in-laws recipe but she never wrote anything down, it was a handful of this, it should look like this, you get my drift, will be making for sure. Beautiful blog you have!

  5. I don’t usually add cheese to my meatballs…thanks for the inspiration.

  6. Romano and red chilies….a woman after my own heart!

  7. We don’t eat a lot of pasta but your plate of meatballs reminds me they hold up more than well enough on their own. Just shooting over here from Tiny White Cottage’s shout out –
    We have fantastic local meat here in the San Juan Islands off the WA coast. We eat a lot of it! I think I’ll try these meatballs on top of some spaghetti squash.

  8. Pingback: The Weekly Whisk – 11/22/2014 | HostessAtHeart