Meatballs and Sauce

meatballsMost of my friends know my parents own a restaurant, Italian, in Upstate NY; Pierri’s Central Restaurant in Painted Post, NY.  All Italians make sauce, no two Italians make the same sauce! My Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, everyone in my family can cook..WE ARE ITALIAN! This is a compilation of a few recipes; My Grandmother, Mary Clark would have conversations with me daily from NY to NC about making meatballs. What I could use if I didn’t have whatever I needed. We would talk recipes the whole time I was cooking dinner! Then my Dad’s restaurant recipe, which Grandma felt had too many breadcrumbs in it..funny, did you know that Dad? and then mine, I love some thyme and basil!

This is the deal!  This is what I teach every class at one point or another, because I feel strongly that everyone of my kids should be able to make a decent meatball when they leave me.  There are two versions, the quick version and then the “Saturday morning, I have company coming later and my house will smell so good, I’m just gonna do laundry and hang in my pajamas this morning” version. Your house will smell phenomenal!

Ingredients discussion…I use all beef, feel free to use the meatloaf mix often available near the ground beef.  I use Pecorino Romano when they are important meatballs, it is saltier.  It is made with sheep’s milk and it is salty and stronger in flavor! Grated Parmesan or Romano will work fine. Adjust and try what works for your taste buds! You’ll love this recipe this winter!


Prep Time: 25 Minutes
Bake Time: 25 minutes 3 Hours (check recipe)
Yield: 20-25 big meatballs

2 lbs ground beef (85/15) (80/20 is OK but a little to fatty- this % is referring to the fat ratio 20 %fat or 15% fat!) 
3/4 C Italian Breadcrumbs of your choice
2 Tablespoons Olive oil
2 Tablespoons Italian Seasonings
1 Tablespoon Thyme
2 Tablespoons crushed garlic
4 eggs
1/2 Cup Grated cheese of your choice – pecorino romano is the best, but I use regular parm a lot
1 teaspoon salt and pepper

  1. Mix all ingredients by hand in a large bowl, order does not matter
  2. Do not over-mix, just until combined
  3. Take a small amount of meat and place in skillet until cooked thru you are tasting the meatball add more seasonings if necessary salt and pepper usually bring in more flavor if the meat is bland
  4. Roll large meatballs, bigger than a golf ball, should get about 20-25 meatballs


#10 can of tomato sauce or approx 12 Cups of tomato sauce
4 Tablespoon crushed garlic
4 Tablespoon sugar
1 Teaspoon Fennel Seed (you must chop this a little with a knife to release the oils)- don’t skip this, it is the flavor of sausage- you need it!
Italian Seasonings

Sprinkle across the top of your pot to cover (no matter the size) (True Italian measuring technique)

  • Italian seasonings
  • Thyme
  • Basil

There are two ways to bake these:FASTER METHOD: Place meatballs in a 9×13 baking dish sprayed with cooking spray, add water to the pan;  approx. 2 Cups.  Should cover just the bottoms of all the meatballs. Bake them in a baking dish; 385 for 30-40 minutes or until fully cooked.  You may add them to your sauce to flavor the sauce and keep them warm until you are ready to serve.  This step will make them more tender as they sit in the sauce!

  1. SLOW ALL DAY METHOD: Before you make meatballs start the sauce on the stove so it can get warm.  Add all ingredients, stir, place on medium heat, stir every 15- 20 min. You could throw 2 Italian sausages in there to add some good flavor too.Make meatballs as above. Add raw meatballs to hot sauce, soft simmer on med low, 2-3 hrs for food safety.  Inside of the meatball will be reddish because of the sauce. Thermometer should read 155 degrees for food safety in the middle of a meatball when fully cooked.  I let my MeatBalls cook 8-10 hours for our gathering!  They can go all day!  Just keep stirring to make sure the bottom of your saucepan doesn’t burn!  The sugar from the sauce will burn.  Just before serving add 1/2 Cup Cheese to sauce

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Michael G Grady says:

    I love to cook and try new recipes! Will be trying this out after the holidays! Thanks for your posting.

    1. apierrih says:

      I hope you love it! My teenagers
      eat it breakfast, lunch, and dinner when it gets made!

  2. Kathy Rose says:

    FINALLY a sauce recipe that I know I will love!!!!

    1. apierrih says:

      I know it will be close…not sure if it will make it to that legendary level!

  3. Diane Pierri says:

    Loved all the recipes! Hope to see more!

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