Jay’s Meatballs & Sauce
- 85% lean ground beef 2lbs
- Ground pork 1lb
- Italian bread crumbs – Start with one cup
- 3-4 garlic cloves – minced
- whole eggs – 1 egg per pound of meat. I use large or jumbo size
- Parmesan cheese – 1 cup. Spend the money, get the good stuff
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Extra Virgin olive oil
- Everything is by feel and taste. You will have to dial this recipe in because so much depends on the quality of the ingredients.
- Make sure the meat is not frozen before you start working with it. You can get it to about 40-50 degrees F. This will help when mixing. If it’s too cold your hands are going to hurt like hell.
- You will need a large mixing bowl, an iron skillet(or similar), a baking sheet or a pot of sauce to finish cooking them in. Also, get some tongs.
- Put all the meat in a big bowl. Really big.
- Add breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs are used to make the meatballs soft. If for some reason you don’t use breadcrumbs the meatballs will be way too solid. I start with one cup.
- Add garlic to taste but you can put in at least 3 cloves.
- Add parmesan to taste but start with one cup.
- Add Salt and pepper. This is to take and will be adjusted during the testing process below.
- Put in the 3 eggs. I sometimes add another egg if the mixture ends up too dry. This is one of those things that’s hard to describe. I will talk more about this below.
- Heat an iron skillet (or similar pan) to a medium/medium low temperature with olive oil. You want to make sure you don’t have it so hot the oil smokes. The amount of oil should be just covering the bottom. with a thin film. About a 1/16 of an inch(1.6mm).
- Mix everything in the bowl together with your hands to an even consistency. Make sure you get everything at the bottom of the bowl mixed in well. Using latex gloves is a good idea.
- Once the oil is heated you must do the following…
IMPORTANT TASTE TESTING STEP: Take a tablespoon size of the mixture and make it look like a small hamburger. Then put that in the skillet and fry it. Make sure it’s cooked all the way through. You want the meat to be browned but not blackened. Once this is cooked, blot it with a paper towel and taste it. You have to judge by taste if you need to add more of certain ingredients. It’s very likely you will want to add more salt and cheese.
Sometimes I add in another egg if the mixture is too dry. It should stick together well but not be too wet. The egg is used to hold the meatballs together so as long as things are binding together well you should be all set.
I keep adding a bit of this or that, test again until you get the flavor you like.
- Once you are satisfied with the taste start forming the meatballs. Size will affect cook time. Start out with a 2 inch (5.08cm) diameter meatball.
- You can choose to cook the meatballs right in the sauce(completely raw) or you can fry them on the outside first. I fry them because it enhances their flavor. If you fry them make sure you only brown them. Using tongs here works best.
- If you do fry them they won’t be cooked all the way through. You can either throw them all in the sauce where they will finish cooking OR bake them at 350F until they are cooked through. Probably 20-30 min.
- If you put them in the sauce wait until the sauce is at least half way cooked. Keep in mind that the meatballs will soak up sauce so make sure you have enough to handle this.
You can scale this recipe pretty easily. Take note of this idea. When you make the meatballs the first time and you like how they came out, pay attention to what the final mixture looks like and feels like. This will help you make them the next time. I know how the mix is supposed to feel in my hands by tri7źial and error. That said I always do a taste test and o always add in more salt and cheese..
You can also swap out the pork and use ground turkey. This might be considered more healthy. If you do this I highly suggest adding in beef bullion. Maybe a tablespoon per pound. Here is a huge cooking secret…this is the only bullion you should ever use:
Once you try it you will see how wise this decision is 🙂
Many Italians died to bring us this information…
Jay’s Sauce (aka gravy in american italian)
Homemade Tomato Sauce
Before you start I recommend you make at least this much sauce. I know for some people this looks like a lot. You can always freeze what’s left over. Sauce keeps in the freezer really well and it’s a meal ready to go. You can store it in a big zip-lock bag or a pyrex. If you use tupperware it will get stained.
Also, get yourself a wooden spoon for the sauce.
- Olive Oil – This is for sauteing
- 1 Whole Vidalia Onion – Diced
- 4 Cloves of Garlic – Diced
- 4 large cans(32oz cans) of diced tomatoes (Muir Glen is best)
- 8 Cans of seasoned tomato paste(6oz cans)
- Hot Water
*Of course add in more or less of anything to taste.
- If you don’t have an immersion blender you will need to crush the tomatoes or blend in a blender. Just get an immersion blender because they are awesome.
- If you are using meat, the first step is to brown any meat in the same pan you will be making the sauce in. Brown the meat well on all sides, including meatballs. Remove the meat and set aside in a covered bowl in the refrigerator until you finish step 8. However, don’t add meatballs until you start seeing the oil raise to the top of the sauce. It’s about an hour away from being done at that point.
- I use at least a 16 quart steel pot for this recipe. Ideally you want a pot with a thick bottom.
- Heat an iron skillet (or similar pan) to a medium/medium low temperature with olive oil. You want to make sure you don’t have it so hot the oil smokes. The amount of oil should be just covering the bottom. with a thin film. About a 1/16 of an inch.
- Saute the diced onion. The moment you put it in the pan add salt on top. I give it a nice coating without going to heavy. Mix in the salt and leave alone until the onions turn translucent. You should add any other optional spices you like at this stage. (parsley, oregano, pepper, red pepper). I use parsley the most, but if I am making pizza sauce, I add oregano.
- Add diced garlic to the cooked onions. Diced garlic will burn if you saute it too long. Keep an eye on it and be ready to add in the diced tomatoes after about 30 seconds. This is very important because if the garlic is overcooked it will taste bitter and ruin the sauce.
- Add 4 cans of diced tomatoes. Cook on medium/medium low for 30-40 minutes. You are looking for the simmering tomatoes to become the same color as the tomato paste.
- Add the tomato paste.
- Add 2 cans of water PER can of tomato paste. If you use hot water you will get a good rinse in the can so you don’t waste the paste and it doesn’t interrupt the cooking process as much.
- Use an immersion blender to make the sauce smooth.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- You can add many different kinds of meat at this point…spare ribs, flank steak etc.
- Let sauce simmer on low heat until it darkens and the oil rises to the top. Stir about every 15 to 30 minutes. Make sure the heat is set so the sauce simmers. No boiling. Depending on altitude this can take 2 hours up to 6+. I made this sauce in Denver and it took over 6 hours!
- When the oil starts to come to the top of the pan, but the tomatoes are still bright red, (about an hour before sauce is done) add the meatballs back in. Keep in mind meatballs will soak up a lot of sauce. If I am going to cook meatballs in the sauce I usually make more sauce.
- The sauce should be dark and sweet.
Sometimes I add in Parmesan cheese at the end once the sauce cools a bit. It depends on how the sauce comes out.