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Dinner Recipe

Meatballs Simmered in Tomato Sauce

Spencer Huey

Meatballs Simmered in Tomato Sauce

Spencer Huey

Serves 3 to 4


Tomato sauce

4 tablespoons butter
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, sliced
heavy pinch of chili flakes
1 - 28oz can crushed tomatoes


1lb ground beef (preferably 80%)
1 egg
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 yellow onion, grated or blended
2-3 cloves garlic, microplaned or minced
1/4 fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 fennel seeds
heavy pinch chili pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt


olive oil
Parmesan cheese
chopped basil or parsley


This is a nod to Marcella Hazan’s famous tomato sauce. Sweat the onion in the butter for a few minutes. Add the garlic and chili flakes and cook for 1 min until fragrant and then finally add the tomato sauce. Season with salt. Simmer the sauce for 15-20 min while you make the meatballs.
To make the meatballs, combine everything (beef, egg, olive oil, bread crumbs, onion, garlic, parsley, oregano, fennel, chili flakes, pepper, and salt). Use your hands to mix it all together and test it for seasoning by frying off a piece in a pan (or microwave a garbanzo bean sized piece for 10 seconds). This is important. If they’re not seasoned properly now, they won’t ever be seasoned properly. We can’t have that. Add more salt if needed. Form into golf ball sized balls and put them on a plate.
Heat a large pan on medium high heat and add a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Brown the meatballs by giving them lots of room; roll and turn them occasionally. Do two batches. Remove the browned meatballs to a clean plate.
Place the meatballs in the sauce and allow them to simmer until tender about 45-60 min. Stir occasionally to make sure they aren’t sticking to the bottom. Taste again for seasoning and adjust with salt. Serve over pasta or creamy polenta. Top with grated parmesan and chopped herbs (basil or parsley).

I love making meatballs and they make a great dinner. They’re great to get kids involved with cooking. To make this even easier, I’ll put the egg, olive oil, onion, garlic, and parsley in a vitamix blender and blend. I’ll put this mixture right into the meat mixture along with everything else and mix well with my hands.

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