Sundays at my house always meant two things: football and meatballs.
Mom would get up early and the whir of the blender would reach my ears through the blankets. The smell of gravy would make its way up the stairs and under my bedroom door. It would follow me to the shower and mingle with the smell of my vanilla body wash.
The smell of meatballs and gravy would take over the whole house, and, no matter how chilly or rainy of a fall day it may be, it would give the house a cozyness. A warm blanket wrapped around you as you padded around the living room.
And a bowl of meatballs with some bread was the perfect food to cheer on your team or to drown your sorrows when the Giants start the season at 0 and 5.
So at long last, here they are, mom’s meatballs.
My mom makes the best meatballs. Period.
I know there’s these trendy places like the Meatball Shop that do all sorts of combinations of meats and ingredients. But you know what, mom’s are better. You know why? Because they are simple and simple food is always the best.
Mom’s meatballs have just three ingredients: ground beef, Italian seasoned bread crumbs and an egg.
Her gravy has two ingredients and one secret (I’ll get to the secret later): 1 can of tomato puree and 1 can of crushed tomatoes.
The only other thing you need is vegetable oil for frying the meatballs. No baking allowed here!
Get out a big pot and have it ready on the stove.
Pour your can of crushed tomatoes into the blender and buzz. Why buy crushed tomatoes only to blend them up? I don’t know. Never questioned my mom on this. If you had her gravy you wouldn’t question either.
Pour the blended crushed tomatoes into the big pot with the can of tomato puree. I usually add like a 1/3 of a can of water if it looks to thick.
Okay, that stays in the pot while we make the meatballs.
In a large bowl, add 1 pound of ground beef and one egg and mix to begin combining.
Make a well in the center of the meat and pour in some bread crumbs.
Now, this is really not a measuring recipe. This is a feel recipe. You want enough bread crumbs to soak up the egg, but not too much that the meatballs are dry and dense. Start with a small amount and add as you mix.
Also, be careful not to overmix, because you’ll get a tough meatball.
When the meat is mixed, roll into balls and place the meatballs in a frying pan with a thin layer of vegetable oil. Meatball rolling trick: slightly wet hands with warm water.
Fry the meatballs over medium heat, turning to brown all sides. You aren’t going to cook the meatballs all the way through, that will happen in the gravy later.
You just want the meatballs nice and brown on all sides.
Go in batches if you need to. You don’t want to overcrowd the pan. As the meatballs are browned, drop them into the pot of gravy.
When all the meatballs are added, turn the heat to medium low and let the meatballs cook in the gravy.
Also, here’s the secret.
That’s the oil we fried the meatballs in. And all the little brown bits from the meatballs. That goes in the pot of gravy with the meatballs. Stir.
Let the meatballs cook in the pot of gravy for a few hours. Figure 5 or 6. Stir occasionally so the meatballs don’t drop to the bottom and burn.
The longer the better. The next day is even better. Though I’m not at all suggesting you wait an entire day to eat them. Nobody has that kind of willpower.
You can make pasta and top it off with the gravy and some meatballs. Or you can just fill up a bowl with meatballs and gravy and grab some crusty bread.