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October 5th,
written by Loren

In terms of classic tried and true cookbooks, the Joy of Cooking is right up there with the best. It’s the size of an unabridged encyclopedia and carries about the same amount of information. Recipe’s from scallop ceviche to saltwater taffy and everything in between, culinary techniques, chemistry lessons, cocktail notes, conversion tables, and cooking temperatures are just a small sampling of what you can find in this 1130 page tome. Whenever I have a particular idea in mind of something I want to try making, I can rely on two things: 1) The Joy of Cooking will have some version of that recipe I’m looking for and 2) That recipe will be a solid interpretation of the dish at hand, with good reasoning as to why certain steps are taken or ingredients used. The JOC recipe might not always be identical to the final version I decide that I like, but it’s always a good start.

To start what I hope becomes another recurring series on this foodiest of blogs, I’m sharing the Italian Meatball recipe from the Joy of Cooking. Ingredients are as follows:

  • 1lb ground beef
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons dry red wine (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano (I substituted 1/2 tsp of minced fresh oregano and 1/2 tsp of minced fresh sage. In hindsight, I probably should have doubled those amounts)
Mix everything together thoroughly with your hands, then form them into 2-inch balls. Dredge the meatballs with 1/2 cup of all purpose flower with a bit more salt and pepper mixed in. Then heat a large skillet over medium heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Brown the meatballs in batches, place on a baking pan and finish in a 375 degree oven for 10 minutes.
Now, these meatballs were pretty good. But they lacked a certain succulence and flavor which I normally associate with meatballs. This reinforced my preexisting opinion, for a really good meatball you need a blend of meats. My choice is to mix it half beef and half spicy Italian sausage. I also think the onion needs to be cut back a little bit. Overall though, this recipe is a great starting point, and the red wine definitely added a nice background flavor.


  1. Bruce Wayne

    I like to use ~1/4 ground lamb in my meatballs. I think it adds woooonderful flavor. It’s more mediterranean than Eye-Talian but I like it. What is the tomato paste for? Just thickener/binder? Also, did you use a special kind of tomato for such orange sauce?

  2. Loren

    I bet lamb would be good. Never tried it myself, but mainly because italiian sausage is usually cheaper and more prevelant. I think the tomato paste is more for flavor than thickening, and it played pretty nicely with the red wine.

    The orange tomato sauce is from the heirloom cherry tomatoes Tyler grew this year. They were delicious and abundant, so in this case I just threw a bunch of them in the food processor with garlic, basil and olive oil.

  3. Arthur

    Your flavors sound great. In my limited meatball making experience I’ve found them deceptively difficult. Sure it’s easy to make a ball of meat. But a meatball shouldn’t be just a round overcooked hamburger on top of pasta.
    I seem to remember that American Test Kitchen uses 1/3 beef, 1/3 pork, and 1/3 lamb. You can sometimes stumble on these all packed together. Though the price point is… well not ideal.

  4. 08/21/2012

    I like to substitute ground turkey in these meatballs, and I leave out the tomato sauce altogether because that was the recipe in the old Joy that I’ve used since 1975.Brown them in butter in a frying pan, both sides, then cover and saute on very low heat for half an hour, turning halfway htrough. You can add a bit of broth to the pan if they get dry.I made them with beef for my granddaughter when I didn’t have any turkey and she wouldn’t eat them because they weren’t “Grammy’s meatballs”!

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