There is so much to say about these Meatballs in Fiore Marinara Sauce. They are part family, part Rao’s. Rao’s is a hundred year old restaurant tucked away in East Harlem, New York. The restaurant became so popular that the owners decided that rather than turn away longtime customers who could not act fast enough to get a reservation, they would dispense tables on a subscription basis, almost like a time share. A regular might have a “one Thursday a month” reservation that they can use or bequeath to a friend. Ultimately this has made it nearly impossible to get a table unless you have the VIP invite. My dear friend and neighbor Ginny gave me the Rao’s cookbook many years ago. It’s been a favorite, and probably the closest I’ll ever get to eating at the restaurant. Lulu, my husband’s Italian grandmother, would make meatballs on Sunday mornings before church. He tells me often about how she would give all the grandkids one or two right from the frying pan before Sunday service. Lulu liked to put raisins in her meatballs. Sadly, Peter and I are the only ones in the family that like raisins in the meatballs, so we leave them out. Feel free to add them back in. You can fry them or bake them depending on how much time you have or how much of a mess you want to make.
Makes: about 26 meatballs
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 1 hour
HINT: If you are making these meatballs with the FIORE MARINARA SAUCE, start the sauce first so that it can be cooking while you make the meatballs.
1 pound ground beef
½ pound ground veal
½ pound ground pork
2 large eggs
1 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
2 tablespoons fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups Panko bread crumbs (or freshly made bread crumbs, soaked in milk or water)
1½-2 cups lukewarm water
- Preheat your oven to 350ºF.
- Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, combine beef, veal and pork.
- Add eggs, cheese, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix ingredients together, by hand.
- Gently blend in bread crumbs.
- Slowly add the warm water, ½ cup at a time, until the mixture is really moist, but still holds together.
- Shape the meat mixture into balls and place on sheet pans. I use a 1/4 cup measuring cup, or a 2-inch scoop to get a uniform size.
- Bake for 40 minutes.
- If you are serving the meatballs with FIORE MARINARA SAUCE, once they are cooked, lower them gently into the sauce and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
SERVING: Serve over pasta of your choice or on their own.
STORING: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2-3 days; 2 months in the freezer.