Braised meatballs are a rewarding way to get into the kitchen and do some real cooking that ends in a great-tasting meal. Perfect for feeding the kids or as a meal for special guests the only thing you won’t need to worry about is leftovers from this recipe. There won’t be any.
Recipe for Braised Meatballs
Have you ever dreamed about food? It happens to me more and more often and not just at night. I’m talking daydreams. I know this recipe has been lingering in my mind lately. I could sense them. I could feel them. Today while working my day job I started to envision them. Then, later this evening I could taste them, not in my dreams but in my kitchen with my family.
Perhaps just as bothersome as the constant thoughts of creating new and different dishes, are the near obsessions I am experiencing with the cooking technique du jour. Lately, it’s been braising, the method of combining dry and moist heats, usually by searing and then finishing in a sauce while covered. Having a love for meatball recipes and braising, this recipe is the perfect marriage of the two.
I always thought of braising as starting with a seer on the stovetop and finishing in a covered vessel in the oven. Guess what, not with this recipe for meatballs. It’s the other way around. They bake for a bit in the oven and then finish on the stove, in a rich red wine and beef broth gravy. Sound good? It is beyond that.
A few nights ago, our friend Paola (from our acclaimed Viva Italia Collection) was over for dinner, along with her family. Over dinner, I asked her if she uses seasoned breadcrumbs in her meatballs. Silly Dan. The answer, of course, was a resounding, “No, no, no.” (Think Amy Winehouse.)
Taking a cue from my Italian friend, there is milk-soaked day-old bread in these babies. No seasoned breadcrumbs. Instead, some fresh savory sage, a little garlic, some parsley, and seasoning. And the holy trinity of meatball ingredients: Beef. Pork. And Veal.
Our 10-year-old twins nearly licked their plates after eating these meatballs. I know they wanted to but instead, they mopped up the gravy remnants with bread. Don’t tell them but just this once I wouldn’t have minded if they had indeed licked their plates. These savory braised meatballs are that good.
As a little bonus, take a look at this recipe from Epicurious for How to Make Breadcrumbs.
More meatball recipes
- Five minutes to prep and 45 minutes to cook is all it takes for this inexpensive and convenient family meal.
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Braised Meatballs in Red Wine Gravy
- ⅓ loaf bread preferably day old. Tore in pieces, crust on.
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 ¾ - 2 lbs beef, pork, and veal All ground.
- 2 large eggs
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- I handful Italian parsley leaves plus more for garnishing
- 2 leaves fresh sage
- 3 cloves garlic
- Salt and pepper to taste
- All purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons ¼ stick butter
- 1 ½ teaspoons olive oil
- 2 cups dry red wine
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 3 cups canned beef broth
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Combine bread pieces and whole milk in medium bowl, pressing on bread to submerge.
- Squeeze out most of milk from bread; discard milk.
- Place bread in large bowl. Add ground meat, eggs, finely chopped onion, parsley, sage, garlic, and salt, pepper.
- Working in 2 batches if necessary, transfer meat mixture to the food processor, process until well blended and mixture looks pasty.
- Form mixture into 1 ¾-inch-diameter meatballs (about 30). Divide meatballs between two 13x9x2-inch glass baking dishes. Bake meatballs 30 minutes. Set meatballs aside.
- Dust meatballs with flour; shake off excess.
- Melt butter with oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add meatballs to skillet and sauté until brown on all sides, about 3 minutes.
- Return all meatballs to skillet.
- Whisk wine and tomato paste in small bowl to blend. Add wine mixture to meatballs and bring to boil.
- Continue boiling until wine thickens slightly, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.
- Add broth, reduce heat to medium and simmer until flavors blend and gravy thickens, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer meatballs and gravy to bowl. Sprinkle with remaining parsley and serve.
- Don't overmix the meat! You wamt tender, losely compacted meatballs, not a tightly-packed sausage. You'll get more a more evenly cooked and better tasting meatball this way.
- Regardless of the meat you use, make sure it has a minimum fat to lean ratio of 20:80. If the meat is too lean you will end up with a less flavorful and dryer meatball.
- Added ingredients mean added flavor! Think of toasted nuts, fresh herbs and other seasoning. Fresh is always best!