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Meatball Recipe – Rao’s Meatballs with Veal, Beef & Pork – Food52

Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

Spaghetti and meatballs doesn’t have to be a meal that you slave over and simmer all day, nor does it need to put you into hibernation once you’ve eaten it. You can mix, shape, and fry these meatballs in exactly the time it takes for Marcella Hazan’s tomato, butter, and onion sauce to cook (or even this 20-minute marinara, if you’re really fast). The caveats: 1. Make your own fresh breadcrumbs (i.e. grind up some stale bread) or, if your crumbs are purchased and quite fine, cut back by half, and don’t use quite as much water. I can’t be responsible for your stiff, mealy dumpling-balls if you don’t heed this. 2. Use local, pastured, not very lean meats if at all possible. Good flavor and fat go a long way here. Adapted slightly from Rao’s Cookbook by Frank Pellegrino (Random House, 1998) —Genius Recipes

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Rao’s Meatballs

  • Prep time
    15 minutes
  • Cook time
    30 minutes
  • Makes
    28 meatballs

  • 1 pound

    lean ground beef

  • 1/2 pound

    ground veal

  • 1/2 pound

    ground pork

  • 2

    large eggs

  • 1 cup

    freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons

    chopped Italian parsley

  • 1/2

    small clove garlic, peeled and minced

  • 1 pinch

    Kosher or sea salt, to taste

  • 1 pinch

    Freshly ground pepper, to taste

  • 2 cups

    fresh bread crumbs

  • 2 cups

    lukewarm water

  • 1 cup

    good quality olive oil, for cooking

  • Your favorite marinara sauce (we like Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter, also on Food52)

  1. Combine beef, veal, and pork in a large bowl. Add the eggs, cheese, parsley, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Using your hands, blend ingredients together. Blend bread crumbs into meat mixture. Slowly add water, 1 cup at a time, until the mixture is quite moist. Shape into 2 1/2 to 3-inch balls.
  2. Heat oil in a large sauté pan. When oil is very hot but not smoking, fry meatballs in batches. When the bottom half of the meatball is very brown and slightly crisp, turn and cook top half. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels.
  3. Lower cooked meatballs into simmering marinara sauce and cook for 15 minutes. Serve alone or with pasta.

Genius recipes surprise us and make us rethink cooking tropes. They’re handed down by luminaries of the food world and become their legacy. They get us talking and change the way we cook. And, once we’ve folded them into our repertoires, they make us feel pretty genius too. Watch for new Genius Recipes every Wednesday morning on our blog, dug up by Food52’s Creative Director Kristen Miglore.

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