Make-a-da-meatballs – Neapolitan Meatballs

1606278_692012374208256_1620097050319209007_o2.pngSpaghetti and meatballs is one of my favorite comfort foods. Mondays growing up were always spaghetti night usually with turkey meatballs though from time to time we’d make them from scratch… Apparently, as my Dad so fondly remembers, this was one of the first dishes I helped make in the kitchen at the tender age of three!

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Neapolitan Meatballs

Now, this is all heresy, but I will say that my meatball making skills twenty-some years later are pretty amazing. There’s something calming and relaxing about rolling meatball after meatball and baking off sheet after sheet and sampling one or two fresh out of the oven. I feel like my small Bed(stuy) kitchen is transformed into a little Italian meatball factory!

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Neapolitan MeatballsAnd since the spaghetti nights  of my youth, I’ve learned that the traditional pairing of pasta and meatballs isn’t very authentic in Italy… these two would never be paired together and instead the pasta served as a primi followed by meatballs or polpette.

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Neapolitan Meatballs

I gotta say, I may prefer this style – it lets the flavor of the meatballs shine through! And speaking of flavor… while you can add a range of ingredients and use a combination of meats, I like to go with a simple ground beef, egg, garlic, panko, and pecorino mixture that are baked until golden brown.

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Neapolitan Meatballs

And while I love making meatballs at home — I mean they are super simple, so this is definitely a recipe to keep in your back pocket — I have had some stellar meatballs out at restaurants. One of the best places if you are solely in the mood for balls of meat is of course, the Meatball Shop*. It doesn’t get better than this!

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Meatball Shop Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Meatball Shop *in case any one was wondering where the best meatballs are in New York City, check out Serious Eat’s list!

In the meantime, I’ll stick to the homemade variety!

Neapolitan Meatballs
  • 3 cups day-old bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1¼ pounds ground beef
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¾ cup pecorino, grated
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
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  1. In a shallow bowl, soak the bread cubes in enough water to cover. Remove the bread cubes and squeeze by hand to wring excess moisture.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the bread, beef, eggs, garlic, pecorino, parsley, pine nuts, salt, and pepper and mix by hand to incorporate bread into meat. With wet hands, form the mixture into 12 to 15 meatballs, each of a size somewhere between a tennis ball and a golf ball.
  3. In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the oil until almost smoking. Add the meatballs, working in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pan, and cook until deep golden brown on all sides, about 10 minutes per batch. Serve warm or at room temperature.


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