cooking with nonna and a recipe for the most absolutely perfect meatballs ever. With bocconcini in the middle. Because why not.

How the heck is it January? And 2019? The only logical explanation is that I full-on Rip Van Winkle’d these last few months as I have absolutely no idea where late 2018 wandered off to. But regardless of how we got here, it is indeed January 2019. Depending on who you’re talking to, that means that it’s time to kick that bad habit and replace it with a good one, time to be “my best self”, time to purge, time to make my bed every morning, time to meditate every night, and so on and so forth. January means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. I think I speak for all of us, however, when I say that I am tuckered out! December is a lot. A lot of socializing, a lot of spending, a lot of over-indulging… just a lot. But now, it’s January. For me, January is a time where I stay cozy and warm while, simultaneously, trying to make up for the last month or two.

And so, I bring you meatballs. My Nonna’s meatballs. The greatest freaking meatballs in the world. This dish has so many positive aspects that it can nudge along any number of your January goals. Full-proof, easy, meal-prep and freezer-friendly, relatively inexpensive and delicious. This recipe details that they be filled with a beautifully balanced core of bocconcini but if you don’t like bocconcini, just leave the bocconcini out,- easy peasy. It’s an hour of hands-on prep max, after which point you just wander away to accomplish your other amazing goals. #killingit #newyearnewyou #meatballtime
*Note: If you decide to leave the bocconcini filling out of the recipe, you’ll only have to cool the meatballs after poaching for an hour or so before moving on to the next step (while the bocconcini version requires that they cool for 4hrs to overnight). In addition, meatballs without the filli
ng may be cooked in multiple layers (while the bocconcini version requires the meatballs to be in a single layer in the pot lest they break).

the most absolutely perfect meatballs ever with bocconcini in the middle

Makes: 9 large meatballs   Prep time: 1 hrs   Total time: 8 hrs

  • 130g very stale calabrese bread, sliced with the crust removed
  • 5C water
  • 875g ground beef
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 119g parmesan cheese, grated 
  • 3/4c of white wine or beer
  • 2 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
  • 260g/9pcs regular-sized bocconcini
  • 48oz tomato sauce

1. Place the pieces of Calabrese bread in a bowl and cover with 5c of lukewarm water. Allow to sit and soak for 10 minutes. 

2. After the bread has soaked sufficiently, squeeze out and discard the excess water. Remove and remaining crust, tear the bread into small pieces and place it in a large bowl with the ground beef, salt, eggs and grated parmesan cheese. Mix thoroughly until the mixture is homogeneous in appearance and you can no longer see the bread in the mixture.

3. Fill a large pot with water and 3/4c of wine or beer and bring to a boil.
    *Note: the beer/wine doesn’t have to be expensive by any means. My Nonna always adds a bit of alcohol before/while cooking meat in order to draw out any impurities and excess fat.

4. With oiled hands, take approximately 3/4c of the meat mixture and form it into a ball around a whole bocconcini, ensuring that the ball is packed relatively tightly so that it won’t fall apart.
    *Note: oiling your hands before handling the meat ensures that it won’t stick to your hands and, as a result, will create a smoother finished product.
    *Note: If you’d rather make meatballs without bocconcini, simply leave the bocconcini out of the recipe.

5. Place the bocconcini-stuffed meatballs in a single layer in the pot of boiling water. Don’t double layer them, or they may break. Allow the water to return to a boil and poach for 5 minutes.
    *Note: If you’ve chosen to make meatballs without the bocconcini filling, they may be poached in multiple layers without fear of them breaking.

6. Once poached, remove the meatballs to a plate in a single layer and set aside to cool in the fridge, uncovered, for 4hrs to overnight. This step ensures that the meatballs have had an opportunity to dry out a bit and, as a result, affix properly to the bocconcini within.
    *Note: If you’ve chosen to make meatballs without the bocconcini filling, they need only be cooled in the fridge for an hour before moving on to the next step.
    *Note: You can prep the meatballs up to this point in advance if you’d like to finish the cooking process the next day. If you’d like to freeze the meatballs, allow them to rest in the fridge overnight (as the step above details), and then pack them in an airtight container before placing in the freezer. The meatballs can be frozen for up to two months.

7. In a large pot, bring the tomato sauce to a boil. Place the meatballs in the pot in a single layer, ensuring that they’re covered by the sauce. Reduce the heat to low and cook the meatballs for 1-1.5hrs.
    *Note: If you’ve chosen to make meatballs without the bocconcini filling, they may be cooked in the tomato sauce in multiple layers without fear of them breaking.

8. Serve warm, doused in tomato sauce and sprinkled with a bit of parmesan cheese.

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