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Italian Style Meatballs

The classic red sauce meatball.

Sometimes there is nothing better in life than digging into a plate of meatballs and spaghetti. For 30 years this has been my go t0 dish for all of my birthday dinners.

Many people fry or bake their meatballs before adding the sauce, but my favorite way is to just cook the raw meatballs directly into the sauce. Letting them slowly simmer in the sauce for an extended period of time makes them super juicy.

Italian Style Meatballs


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For the meatballs

  • 2 lbs ground beef or ground turkey

  • 1 cup Italian style breadcrumbs

  • Garlic powder

  • Onion powder

  • 2 tbs milk

  • 2 large eggs

  • Salt

  • Pepper

For the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

  • 1 (28 ounce) can whole tomatoes

  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • Sweet red wine to taste

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


For the Sauce

  1. In a large dutch oven (or large pot), heat olive oil on medium heat. Add in the onions and stir. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the onions are translucent.

  2. Add in the minced garlic and stir

  3. After about 30 seconds, add the tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, salt, pepper , sugar and wine and then simmer on low heat, uncovered for 15- 20 min

For the Meatballs:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the meat, eggs, breadcrumbs, milk and seasoning with your hands, and mix well. Start rolling meatballs into approximately 1 inch diameter balls, being careful not to roll them too tightly (you want the sauce to be able to seep through during cooking).

  2. Carefully drop the meatballs into the simmering tomato sauce and cook for about 90 minutes to 2 hours (note, they should be fully cooked after only 30 min- the extra time is just for extra flavor)

  3. Serve fresh from the pot over a large plate of spaghetti, or save and reheat and serve the following day. These meatballs are even better the second day!

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