This recipe is obviously inspired by the meatballs at Frankies Spuntino. Who would have thought adding raisins and pine nuts would make the best meatballs on the planet? I sure wouldn’t have believed it, so I just had to give these a try. I tend to stay on the safe side when cooking, so I thought it was time to try something totally different. And I can’t even tell you how happy I am, that I did!
These are the kind of meatballs that will win over your mother-in-law, even if meatballs have always been her specialty. Try these once and you’ll never go back to your old recipe again!
4 slices bread (2 packed cups’ worth)
2 lb ground beef
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano, plus about 1 cup for serving
1/4 cup Sun Maid raisins
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
15 turns white pepper
4 large Eggland’s eggs
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
Heat the oven to 325°F. In a bowl, cover bread with water, and let soak for a couple of minutes. Pour off the water and wring out the bread, then crumble and tear it into tiny pieces.
In a mixinb bowl, combine soaked bread with all of the remaining ingredients (EXCEPT tomato sauce), adding them in the order that they are listed. Add the dried bread crumbs last to adjust for wetness; the mixture should be moist wet, not sloppy wet.
Shape mixture into handball-sized meatballs and space them evenly on a baking sheet. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. The meatballs will be firm but still juicy and gently yielding when they’re cooked through.
In the meantime, heat the tomato sauce in a sauté pan large enough to accommodate the meatballs comfortably.
Dump the meatballs into the pan of sauce and nudge the heat up ever so slightly. Simmer the meatballs for half and hour or so (this isn’t one of those cases where longer is better) so they can soak up some of the sauce. Keep them there until it’s time to eat.
Serve the meatballs 3 to a person in a healthy helping of read sauce, and hit everybody’s portion—never the pan—with a fluffy mountain of grated cheese. Reserve the leftover tomato sauce (it will be extra-super-delicious) and use it anywhere tomato sauce is called for in this book.
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Quick tip: Trust me – as weird as it may sound to add raisins to meatballs, they make these so delicious that you should at least give them a try!