Poppi’s Meatballs!

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My dad would always make his famous (in our family anyway) meatballs every Sunday while listening to Tony Bennett songs. The house would fill with the sounds of music and the aroma of the meatballs cooking making everyone excited about the meal to come. I remember as if it were yesterday all of these happy times gathering family and friends around the dinner table. I’ve continued that tradition to this day, even the Tony Bennett songs!
My father was a butcher and I am convinced the reason why his meatballs are so delicious is that he would grind the chuck roast fresh instead of purchasing ground beef already packaged, what a difference in the taste and texture. I highly recommend you do the same. Just ask the butcher to grind a chuck roast for a hamburger. The meatballs will cook up moist, tender and light.




1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1- (28-ounce) can San Marzano tomato puree
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon Monk Fruit sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus additional for sprinkling


Heat saucepan on medium-high heat. Add olive oil and garlic, saute the garlic turning gently until it starts to turn golden on all sides. Be careful not to burn the garlic or the sauce will taste bitter. If this happens discard and start the process again.
Add the tomatoes, salt, water, monk fruit sugar, butter, and red pepper flakes. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. If the sauce looks too thick or gets too thick while simmering add water 1/4 cup at a time. You don’t want it watery, but you do want it to have a silky consistency. Turn off heat and set aside while you make the meatballs.


Makes 12

2 (3-ounce) sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
2 pounds freshly ground chuck roast
1/2 white onion, cut into pieces
1 celery stalk, cut into pieces
1 small carrot, cut into pieces
1/4 cup loosely fresh Italian parsley
1 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup Romano cheese
2 pieces of sourdough bread, crusts removed, torn into shreds
1/2 cup whole milk
1 small garlic clove, crushed through a garlic press
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/4 cup ketchup, 3 tablespoons olive oil


Place the sausages along with the ground chuck in a bowl. In a food processor, pulse chop the onion, celery, carrot, and parsley until finely chopped. Add the vegetable mixture to the meat along with the bread crumbs, Parmesan and Romano cheese, white bread, milk, garlic, salt, egg, and ketchup. Using your hands’ mix until all of the ingredients are incorporated. Form twelve 4-ounce meatballs. To help you gauge the size, you can use a 1/4 ” inch dry measuring cup. Roll the mixture in your hands to make smooth round balls. Do not pack them too tightly this will ensure the meatballs will be moist and juicy.

Heat a large cast iron skillet or heavy bottom skillet for 5 minutes on high heat. Add olive oil, swirl and quickly add the meatballs. Brown the meatballs until caramelized (about 2 minutes on top and bottom.

Bring the sauce to a LOW simmer.

Carefully lift the meatballs and place them in the marinara sauce you have prepared and gently simmer for 40 minutes with a lid slightly ajar. Check after 20 minutes. If the sauce seems too thick add water 1/3 cup at a time. Gently stir so you don’t break the meatballs.

Serve with your favorite sauce!

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1 Comment

  1. Lana

    When I was growing up in Serbia, my parents always had their meat ground at the butcher’s, and when I visit there, I continue with the tradition. In the U.S., we used to buy the meat already ground, but a few years back I convinced my husband that buying chuck and having it ground is the way to go:)
    I am looking forward to trying your Poppi’s sauce in your rendition (30 minutes works for me just fine!), Tony Bennet and all:)
    Thank you for your kind words on my blog:) It means a lot to me to have someone like you understand where I am coming from. Looking forward to seeing you again one day soon!


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