Classic Hungry Meatballs

Classic Hungry Meatballs - student project

Inspired by some other fellow meat lovers, I've taken a few words from the wise and developed my own classic meatball recipe. When it comes to meat, you don't really need to glam it up too much--sometimes, it's about using simple ingredients and putting in the time and energy to let it cook in it's own beautiful essence.

"With meatballs, we want to set the integrity of the protein." -Chef Michael Psilakis of Kefi

"Frying is superior." -Chef Drew Abruzzese of The Pineville Tavern

"There's really no wrong way to do a meatball.-Chef Dan Holzman of The Meatball Shop

"Meatballs were never meant to be vegetarian." -Me

Classic Hungry Meatballs - image 1 - student project


  • 15 slices Wonder bread (crust trimmed off)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound ground veal
  • Half of a large Spanish or sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons dry oregano
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesean or Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Salt and black pepper
  • All-purpose flour
  • Canola oil for frying


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 of a large Spanish or sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2, 28oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 can of tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 fresh bay leaf or 2 dried
  • 1 tablespoon dry oregano
  • 15 small, picked sprigs of parsley
  • 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and black peper
  • 15 leaves basil

1. First, you'll want to prepare your tomato sauce. Since I like to cook my meatballs in a slow cooker, I prepare the base of my sauce in a small sauce pan. Heat olive oil and toss in your garlic and 1/4 of an onion. Add tomato paste and allow to almost fry to a deeper red color. Add red wine and simmer for about 2 minutes.

2. Tranfer to your slow cooker and combine with crushed tomatoes, bay leaf, dry oregano, red pepper flakes and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook on low as you prepare your meatballs.

3. Cube Wonderbread and add to a medium bowl. Pour in milk and soak for about 5-10 minutes. Squeeze most of the milk out of the bread, and transfer to a large bowl. Add the beef, pork, veal, garlic, onion, parsley, oregano, cheese, and egg. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly with clean hands until evenly combined.

Classic Hungry Meatballs - image 2 - student project

Classic Hungry Meatballs - image 3 - student project

4. Heat canola oil in a large shallow pan or deep fryer.

5. Use a 1 1/2-ounce ice cream scoop to form firm-packed, golfball-sized meatballs. Dredge the meatballs in the flour, coating them evenly all over. Fry in batches until golden brown on all sides. This will "set the integrity of the protein" and create a casing around the meatballs so they don't fall apart while cooking down in the sauce. Transfer to a paper towel-lined pan to absorb some of the oil before transfering the partially cooked meatballs to your slow cooker.

Classic Hungry Meatballs - image 4 - student project

Classic Hungry Meatballs - image 5 - student project

6. Cook on high in your slow cooker for about 2-3 hours, or until all the meatballs are tender and very juicy. Stir occassionally.

Prepare with spaghetti or toast a good french roll for a meatball sub. They're your balls. Have 'em any way you wish!

Classic Hungry Meatballs - image 6 - student project