DV Home Cooking: Creating Authentic Italian Meatballs

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Anna Salerno with her daughters Bella, Amelia and Alexandra at her school's International Night Food Fair with hundreds of meatballs.
Anna Salerno with her daughters Bella, Amelia and Alexandra at her school's International Night Food Fair with hundreds of meatballs. Photo Credit: Submitted

Home Cook: Anna Salerno Ridgewood, N.J.

I tweaked the meatball recipe that my parents have been using for nearly 40 years by using Panko crumbs instead of fresh breadcrumbs ... mainly because I rarely have French bread on hand ... but other than that, it's the same recipe they brought with them from Italy when they moved here in 1977.

Recipe: Anna’s Meatballs and Sauce

For about 24 meatballs


  • 1 cup plain Panko breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tsp each garlic and onion powders, dried basil and dried oregano, ground pepper
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt and dried parsley
  • 2lbs Ground beef
  • 1lb Ground pork
  • ½ cup Grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
  • Combine the breadcrumbs, milk, garlic and onion powders, dried herbs, salt and pepper in a large bowl. 
  • Let mixture sit for a few minutes until milk is completed absorbed into breadcrumbs.
  • Add meats, cheese and eggs and gently mix together with your hands until it is combined. 
  • Using a medium scoop, scoop out meatballs about an inch apart onto a cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and gently transfer to pot of sauce.

For sauce


  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves sliced or minced
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • 3 oz tomato paste
  • 8 oz red or white wine
  • 2 – 28 oz cans of crushed or whole tomatoes (if whole, blend in a blender or with an immersion blender until the tomatoes are broken apart)
  • 1 tbsp of dried basil, dried oregano and ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp of dried parsley
  • Salt to taste


  • Add the olive oil to a large pot and turn heat to medium. 
  • Add diced onion and cook for five minutes, stirring regularly so that the onions cook evenly. 
  • Add garlic, stir and cook for one minute. 
  • Push onions and garlic to outer edges of pot and add the tomato paste to the center. 
  • Turn up heat to medium high. Do not stir for about a minute so that it can carmelize but make sure it doesn’t burn. 
  • Stir together tomato paste and onions and cook for three minutes. Add wine to pan and combine with onions and tomato paste. 
  • Let it cook for three minutes and then add the crushed tomatoes. 
  • Lower heat to medium and add herbs and pepper. 
  • Add meatballs when they come out of the oven and lower heat to low. 
  • Cook at low for about 45 minutes. Do not boil or meatballs will become tough. Add salt to taste and your sauce is done.

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