Umami Recipes
Umami Recipes


The Best Italian-American Meatballs

6 servings


1 hour 45 minutes

total time


1 packet unflavored gelatin (optional, see note)

1/2 cup (120ml) homemade chicken stock or low-sodium broth (optional, see note)

3 ounces (85g) crustless fresh white bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 unpacked cups)

1/3 cup (80ml) buttermilk, plus more as needed

1 medium (8-ounce; 225g) yellow onion, minced

3 ounces (85g) fatty pancetta, finely minced (see note)

2 ounces (55g) Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated, plus more for serving

8 medium cloves garlic (about 1 3/4 ounces; 50g), finely minced

1/2 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves (1 ounce; 30g), minced

4 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon ground fennel seed

1 tablespoon Diamond crystal kosher salt (12g); for table salt use half as much by volume or the same weight

Freshly ground black pepper

1 pound (455g) ground beef (at least 25% fat; see note)

1 pound (455g) ground pork (at least 25% fat; see note)

5 cups (1200g) tomato sauce, such as Quick and Easy Italian American Red Sauce , The Best Slow Cooked Tomato Sauce , or The Best Fresh Tomato Sauce


In a heatproof measuring cup, sprinkle gelatin all over surface of stock and let stand for 5 minutes. (If not using stock and gelatin, proceed to Step 2.) Microwave stock, stirring once or twice, until gelatin completely dissolves, about 2 minutes. Pour stock into a wide heatproof bowl and refrigerate until fully set, about 30 minutes.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine bread with buttermilk, tossing to coat. Let stand, tossing occasionally, until bread is completely moist, about 10 minutes. Squeeze bread between your fingers or mash with a spoon to make sure there are no dry spots; if there are dry spots that refuse to moisten, add more buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until bread is moist throughout.

Add onion, pancetta, Parmigiano-Reggiano, garlic, parsley, egg yolks, oregano, fennel, salt, and pepper to bread/buttermilk mixture. Finely mince gelled stock, if using, and add.

Set mixer bowl in stand mixer and attach paddle. Starting at low speed and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, beat bread mixture until thoroughly blended, stopping to scrape down sides as necessary. Add 1/3 each of the beef and pork and beat at medium-high speed until thoroughly blended with bread mixture.

Remove bowl from stand mixer and add remaining beef and pork. Using a clean hand, gently mix meatball mixture, teasing apart ground meat with your fingers, just until ground beef and pork are thoroughly mixed in and no pockets of unincorporated meat remain; avoid mixing any more than is necessary for even distribution.

Preheat broiler and set oven rack in upper position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Form meatball mixture into handball-sized balls and arrange on prepared baking sheet; you should be able to make about 10. Broil meatballs until browned on top, about 7 minutes. (Browning times can vary dramatically, depending on oven broiler strength.)

Heat tomato sauce in a medium pot until simmering and add meatballs. Simmer until meatballs are just cooked through and register about 145°F (63°C) on an instant-read thermometer, about 10 minutes.

Serve meatballs, spooning sauce all over and grating more cheese on top.


Serving Size

Serves 4 to 6 (makes abo


807 kcal

Total Fat

50 g

Saturated Fat

19 g

Unsaturated Fat

0 g

Trans Fat



340 mg


1486 mg

Total Carbohydrate

28 g

Dietary Fiber

4 g

Total Sugars

10 g


60 g

6 servings


1 hour 45 minutes

total time
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