Zen and the Art of Meatball Making

I did it. No question about it, I just cooked the best dish of my life. It was just a bowl of meatballs and sauce, but it was incredibly tasty and without question my best cooking effort yet. Like most great dishes, it came about due to the best ingredients,acquired wisdom and technique and ingenuity.

I had a couple pounds of lovely rough ground wagyu beef. Added a pound of fresh ground veal,five eggs, a half cup fresh grated pecorino romana, half cup of chopped parsley, three cloves minced garlic, a quarter cup seasoned bread crumbs and salt and pepper. The ingenuity was taking three leftover Martins potato rolls, soaking them in whole milk,then tearing them into tiny pieces and adding them to the mix.

I fried the balls in olive oil, then used the whole mess as the base for a sauce. cannot describe to you how light and flavorful the meatballs are. The sweet San Marzano sauce is the perfect bath for them. Just absolutely crushed this one.

Tags: cooking sauce

The Result

My Sauce Recipe

It’s always evolving, but here is the most recent version:

4 Large cans tomatoes (1000 gram, or roughly 2lb 3 oz per can)
-get the best tomatoes you can find. I prefer La Valle San Marzano, which come with the DOP certification.

3 full heads of garlic, minced (yes, three full heads)

2 large onions, minced

½ cup good olive oil

2 pounds meatballs

2 large pieces pork brasciole

10 leaves fresh basil, torn into small pieces

½ cup Italian parsley, cleaned and shredded

½ cup fresh ground pecorino romano, the saltier the better


Heat ¼ cup olive oil in cast iron skillet on low heat for a long time, till surface ripples (12-15 minutes)

Add meatballs in batches and move around pan, browning on all sides but not searing. Remove browned meatballs and reserve

Add onions to skillet. They should fill the whole pan. Turn heat up just a tiny bit and stir regularly. Let them really reduce, for a good 15 minutes or more.

Add remaining ¼ cup olive oil, all garlic and both pieces brasciole. Stir garlic and onions thoroughly and turn brasciole so it browns off.

Transfer entire mixture into large stock pot.

Transfer tomatoes to stock pot individually by hand, removing stems and as many seeds as you can. Pinch remaining pieces into smaller rough chunks.

Bring mixture to a low boil, then back down to a high simmer. Add all herbs and romano cheese and stir in. Simmer for three hours. Add meatballs and simmer for another hour.

Remove meats, and transfer to platter.

Give sauce a thorough stir. Pour over meats and pour over pasta.

Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella with some sauce

Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella with some sauce

So it begins

Meatballs are browning in olive oil. Two large onions and two whole heads of garlic are minced. Brasciole is coming to room temperature. Parsley and basil are cleaned and chopped. It’s going to be a good day.

Moe is already pacing expectantly. Going to be a while yet, little man.