When it came to meatballs my Mom, Josie had the best ones by far. She would always be complimented for them. That’s why to this day I’m still making them according to her instructions and the outcome is always the same.
These meatballs have history. In all the different meatballs I have eaten, I have to say my Mom’s have always come out on top. They never won any coveted awards but they never were entered into any kind of contest. The accolades always came from friends and family and to this day, still, do. Unfortunately, my mother is no longer is with us but her meatball recipe is still getting those accolades. Yes, that’s right, I’m making them still, and I still have not eaten a meatball like these anywhere else.
When my daughter met her husband, at the time her boyfriend, he had a chance to have them at our house. He immediately asked me for the recipe but I had told him I could not give him the recipe at that time but if he became part of the family in the future that it very well may be a possibility that I’d give him the recipe then when the two of them got married.
Well, time passed, the two became one; and so the story goes… X. has the recipe now and the meatballs are pretty good but they’re not Mom’s. Even I do not make them as good as my mother but that’s ok because there was only one Josie, and she will always take the title for the”best meatballs”.
When making these meatballs I can not emphasize enough how important it is to fry these meatballs prior to putting them in the gravy (sauce) to cook the remainder of the time in the sauce. All the juices are sealed in from the flash fry prior to putting them into the gravy which also has the sausage, braciole and now the meatballs. You will make this cook at least an hour to an hour and a half more time to give the meatballs more flavor also giving the gravy more flavor.
One other point I wanted to emphasize; when it comes to the day-old bread; if you do not have this readily available you can replace it with Italian Style breadcrumbs. I do not have the day-old bread available to me as much as I wish I had so my go-to is the Italian style breadcrumbs. Also, I’ve noticed when forming the meatballs you want to make them at least three inches in diameter so when you fry them they will shrink at least a half of an inch and the meatball size will not be reduced to resemble a large marble; the size will have substance.
By taking these suggestions to heart the meatballs should turn out with some seriously awesome results and they will be authentically homemade by you, old-world Italian meatballs.
Molto bene, mangia, mangia!!
Josie’s Sicilian Meatballs
Really, I'm not bragging, my Mom's meatball recipe is the best!!! When my son-in-law tasted my Mom's meatballs for the first time he asked me for the recipe. I was very cordial, but I had to reframe from passing him the recipe at that time. I courteously said, at this time, I will have to reframe from giving you the recipe since you are not family but if things progress in your relationship with my daughter and there are some wedding bells in the future, at that time we will reassess the question and consider it, at that time; but in the meantime, I will gladly make them again since its a regular entree' at our home. Matter of fact I'll even send you home with a nice bowl full so you may have them for whatever you like. Like putting them in the freezer and taking 2 out at a time to put on a nice crispy roll and gravy. That is a true story about these meatballs, so need I say, my daughter married X. and now X. has the recipe and my daughter and X. have beautiful twin girls that love those meatballs too, and they like Grandmom to make them for them. Need I say more!
- 2½ lbs. ground meat (beef, veal, pork)
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup Grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup Day-old Italian bread (cover bread with water, rehydrating the bread) (The bread will soak up all the water) It really should be dryer than day-old bread; you can dry it out in the oven. Just keep the oven on 250° to dry. Make sure you watch it so it does not toast; you just want it dry. * You can also use Italian style breadcrumbs, as a substitution. (about a cup and a half)
- 10 cloves fresh chopped garlic
- Handful cleaned fresh Italian parsley; chopped finely
- salt (palm it) about 2 tbsp.
- Freshly ground pepper
- Cool water (as needed)
You are going to put all your ingredients in a large bowl with some added room at the top for mixing by hand. I always use surgical gloves.
You are going to begin to mix your meatballs and as you mix you want your meatballs not to be dry; so as you mix you may have to add some cool water so the meat mixture is not dry.
If you have a large cast-iron skillet I'd advise you to use it (check out my article "Brief History of Cast Iron Cookware the How-to's, and Why's and Ingenius uses of Cast Iron Worldwide"). Cast iron holds the heat and will give you a beautifully browned meatball which will be crispy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside; mark my words it's the only way to go if you want authentic Italian meatballs.
So while your still mixing the meatballs up you are going to put either your castiron skillet or your stainless steel frying pan on the burner; you are going to put ⅓ inch of olive oil in the frying pan; it must heat to high before you start to fry. This is going to give you that nice deep browned colored meatball and it will keep the center of your meatball juicy and tender. You never want to put your meatballs raw into your gravy. They will not cook properly, will ruin your sauce and at that point, you just should throw it all away. I can not emphasize enough to first fry your meatballs!! Since I keep the burner on high, I like to use a frying pan screen so as not to splatter your stove and avoid having the oil splatter you as well.
As they brown you are going to turn your meatballs so to get the whole meatball nice and brown all the way around the meatball.
After they are done you are going to put them on a paper toweled serving dish to absorb the excess frying oil. What I usually do is put about half of the meatballs in the gravy and the other half go into the freezer for another time. (Or better yet, go ahead and double your whole recipe and save on future time that you will have to make them; you can just pull them from the freezer, defrost them and have them for a future pot of gravy; saving time and money).
If you are putting them in gravy, you want to be sure they cook in the gravy for at least an hour on a low simmer. (This is after you have fried them in the cast iron skillet )This way they get all the flavor of the sauce and vice versa.