Sicilian Meatballs with Fresh Basil Marinara

by Laura on November 15, 2012

in Beef, Main Meals, Recipes

Full of flavor, these Sicilian-style meatballs from the Bi-Rite Market’s  Eat Good Food cookbook(10 Speed Press) is a recent addition to our family recipes. It satisfies the picky eaters, as well as the more sophisticated, especially when topped with the fresh basil marinara.

Makes 6 large meatballs

  • ½ cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • ¾ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, more for sprinkling
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 4 large cloves, garlic, minced
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ lbs ground beef
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (28-ounce)can crushed tomatoes
  • sugar, as needed
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil.

Put a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 375 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking pan with parchment or a nonstick liner and set aside.

Put the breadcrumbs and milk in a large mixing bowl, stir to blend, and set aside for 5 minutes. With your hands, squeeze and mash the breadcrumbs so that they make a smooth paste. Add the egg and whisk then add the Parmigiano, ketchup, parsley, oregano, thyme, half the onion, half the garlic, 2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Stir to blend.

With your hands, break the beef into small chunks and add to the bowl. Mix gently but thoroughly; over-mixing will make the meatballs touch and dry. When all the ingredients are evenly combined, shape the mixture into 6 balls and arrange on the baking sheet.

Bake until an instant-read thermometer reads 165 degrees F at the center of a meatball, 40 to 45 minutes.

While the meatballs are baking, make the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the remaining half onion and 1 tsp. salt and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook stirring frequently, until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining half garlic and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, bring to a boil, and lower the heat to maintain a vigorous simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced to a thick sauce, 10-15 minutes. Taste the sauce and add a pinch or two of sugar if it seems too tangy, and season with more salt if necessary. Stir in the basil and keep warm until the meatballs come out of the oven.

Spoon the sauce generously over the meatballs and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes to blend the flavors. Garnish with a sprinkling of Parmigiano.


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