Ma's classic pork meatballs
Ma’s classic pork meatballs

Welcome to meatball week!

Homemade meatballs and tomato sauce.  This is what Sundays were made of when I was a kid.  I would go to church with my father (when I managed to get up early enough) and by the time we got home, my mother would have made a vat of tomato sauce with a bunch of meatballs floating around in there.

Her simple recipe is below.  And it’s tasty.

But over the years, you add a little of this and add a little of that, and then you have a whole new recipe.  I like parsley and hot chili flakes in my meatballs and my sauce.

I spent 6 hours one day making meatballs, all starting with my mother’s classic recipe.  It was supposed to be a 2-hour affair.  But then I wondered about adding this and then I thought about trying another technique.  In the end, I added fennel to one batch, parsley and hot chili flakes to another.  I tried them without soaking breadcrumbs in milk and then I tried a bath with breadcrumbs soaked in milk.


Three kinds of meatballs in process
Three kinds of meatballs in process

Whichever you choose, you won’t be disappointed.

My personal favourite is the version with the parsley and hot chili flakes with the soaked bread crumbs. And next time I make them, I will add more cheese, probably at least a 1/2 cup.

Parsley, Hot Chili Flake Pork Meatballs
Parsley, Hot Chili Flake Pork Meatballs

Here’s your RTI for the basic meatball recipe.  Watch for specific posts on the fennel and chili flake versions.


How much cheese you put in is your own preference.  The two tablespoons my mom puts in is just a bit.  If you want them cheesier, put more in.  I’ve seen tons of recipes that call for about 1 cup of cheese per 1.5 pounds of meat, so if you want more cheese, go with a 1/2 cup or 3/4 of a cup.

By the way, if you’re already backing away,  cursing your body’s inability to produce lactase so you can have dairy products, don’t worry!  Two tablespoons of a cheese like Parmeggiano probably won’t affect you much.  The harder cheeses have very little lactose.  You can always skip the cheese altogether!  I’ve had a lactose issue for years.  Genetically, I don’t produce the enzyme lactase which breaks down the sugar in milk.  I take the lactose pills and they work, most of the time!

As for breadcrumbs, I might start with 1/4 cup and see how that turns out.  My mother never soaked her breadcrumbs in milk, but I have.  Makes for a softer, spongier, more “fall-apart-y” type of meatball.

When it comes to the sauce, this will already be simmering on the stove by the time you get down to making the meatballs.  See this previous post for two versions of sauce!

Also, usually I let the sauce thicken up a bit before I add the meatballs as they don’t take all that long to cook.


  • Big bowl
  • Little bowl (to crack open the eggs)
  • Plate

Ingredients for the basic recipe:

  • 1 pound meat (pork), hand-sliced if you have the time (worth the investment).  If not, ground pork is fine.
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp finely grated cheese (parmesan, romano – whatever hard cheese you like)
  • 1 sprinkle of black pepper
  • some salt
  • ½ cup bread crumbs (gluten-free bread crumbs work well too)

The “How”:

  • Crack your eggs separately into a bowl to make sure you don’t toss in any unwanted shells
  • Put all the ingredients in a large bowl
  • Mix until blended but not too much.  That’s a recipe for a tough meatball.
  • Then form the meat into balls
  • Gently drop the meatballs into your simmering pot of tomato sauce and let them cook, for at least 30 minutes.

Yield:  About 15 meatballs, depending on how big you roll them

Make some pasta if you like or just pile up those meatballs with some sauce on top, some cheese, maybe a sprig of parsley and you’re done!

The recipes for the fennel and chili flake meatballs are coming soon!



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