“Great’s” meatball recipe

Shockingly enough, the photo above is not a deleted scene from “The Godfather.” It’s my great grandmother living what appears to be her best life.

The recipe below comes straight from the old world, via my great grandmother, who we always affectionally just called: “Great.”

I’ll be honest: I am really tired of fancy meatball recipes that have multiple meats and an ingredients list the size of my forearm. This is nothing fancy. Nothing crazy. Just a simple, straightforward Italian meatball recipe. Pair them with a good sauce and you’re well on your way to a great pasta night. Who knows, maybe I’ll even share Great’s tomato sauce recipe another time…


1-1.25lbs of Ground Beef

4 Cloves of Garlic (Finely Chopped)

2 Tablespoons of Fresh Chopped Italian Parsley

1 Cup Frozen (and Grated) Breadcrumbs

1/4 Cup of Tomato Juice (If you’re making sauce use some remnants of the fresh or canned juice)

2 Eggs


Mix together all ingredients until thoroughly combined, then form into meatballs.

Brown the meatballs, preferably in a sturdy (read: cast iron) pan.

After browned, cook the meatballs in a pot of boiling water for 5 minutes. (You may need to do this in batches to avoid overcrowding the water).

Add to spaghetti sauce during the last stages of cooking (usually about 10-12 minutes) and prepare to enjoy some of the simplest, tastiest meatballs you’ve ever had.


As to not be a liar, I will admit Great’s original recipe only calls for two cloves of garlic. But, come on…live a little!

I don’t know why frozen breadcrumbs work, but they do. The meatballs comes out super juicy, and I think that’s a big part of it. I typically use a ciabatta to grate, and you have to put some muscle into it, but any bread will work. After all, I can almost guarantee she was using a simple loaf of white bread when she made these.

Do not skip finishing the meatballs off in a good sauce. If you’re not cooking sauce, just grab a big can of crushed tomatoes and finish them off in that. But, trust me when I say these deserve an equally good red sauce to accompany their deliciousness.

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