How to Make Nonna’s Meatballs.

Today I am introducing a new feature. It’s one that I have been looking forward to upon my return to Chicago because I value it apart from the blog. My nonna is the best cook I know. She is probably the best cook you know too. I’ve longed to make her infamous recipes alongside her and learn her secrets and now I am. What I love about Nonna’s cooking is that when she married at 19, she didn’t have any clue what she was doing. She called her mom after the honeymoon and said, “Okay. So what do I do now?” Her mom was also an incredible cook. And so every day, my nonna, then a young wife, would call her mom and learn a new dish until she learned an arsenal of amazing recipes. Soon she would have two children and grandchildren and she would have tricks just like her mom did and she would feed us from memory, without measurements. Now, she is teaching me. And also you, if you would like. I consider what my nonna does to be art, an art that fills you. When she makes something, it is with love. When she feeds someone, she is loving them. There is beauty in that. If you visit her, she will demand to feed you. While this can be annoying at times, there is also a tenacity in it. She wants to care for you. She wants to cook for you. And if you let her? Magic.meatballs
The first thing I tackled is her famous sauce and meatballs. Today, I’ll let you in on the secret of the Meatballs because they are less complicated than the sauce and I have already spent sometime explaining Nonna and her cooking. Want to know another thing I love about this woman who cooks like a chef? One of the things she says all the time is If you can read, you can cook. So, you can make Nonna’s Meatballs. Trust her. Don’t be intimidated.  IMG_8618The only problem with Nonna’s recipes is the amounts and measurements. You have to make it with her to figure it out. So the amounts and measurements will be listed below. I had to work a bit backwards. Italians, ya know?IMG_7363Add the ground meat and then you have two options. First option: moisten the 3 slices of bread with crusts removed and add to meat. Or add in Italian Bread Crumbs. We did the Bread Crumbs this time. The ratio should look like this:IMG_7364Add the egg.

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1-1 1/4 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of Pepper

1 teaspoon (overflowing of parsley)

which should look like this:IMG_7367Now you get your hands dirty, mixing thoroughly with your hands. No utensil will do other than those hands of yours. Meanwhile remove any large chunks of bread. Shape your meatballs. Be sure to not over do when it comes to the size.IMG_7385This should yield between 6-7 meatballs. Seven and you have created the perfect size meatballs. Add them to a pan, coated thinly with heated olive oil. IMG_7392Now, you will brown them on all four sides. So they look something like this:IMG_7397Next you will add the meatballs and what’t left in the pan to your pot of sauce (which I will teach you very soon) where they will cook with your sauce for about 2 hours.IMG_7401After I teach you nonna’s sauce, you’ll have this as a finished product:IMG_7421I asked Nonna about people who add in pork or other meat to their meatballs. She shrugged and explained that she’s tasted those meatballs and there really isn’t a difference so why not make it easy on yourself. I happen to agree.

What do you think? Are you excited to learn how to make Nonna’s sauce?

P.S. I am linking up with Rachel for the Bread + Wine Project. (Because Meatballs count as a side dish, no?)

Buon Appetito, 





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18 thoughts on “How to Make Nonna’s Meatballs.

  1. sarah

    I sound just like your Nonna {minus the awesome cooking skills.} I got married at 19 and had no idea how to cook either. I would call my mom every night and ask some of the silliest questions. Rice! How do I cook rice!?!??! But now I’m happy to say that I can cook rice and lots of other things too. She’s right, if you can read you can cook. You just have to be willing to try new things! Can’t wait to try out her recipe! 🙂

  2. Lindsey

    Those look so good! I just made meatballs for the first time last night & now I wish I’d had Nonna’s recipe! She sounds like my grandmother…I have to watch to get measurements out of her because she does everything by how it looks or tastes!

  3. Amy

    I must try this recipe soon! These look mouthwatering delicious! Thank you so much for sharing your Nonna’s recipe with us!

  4. jenna @ dearest love

    Oh, girl. These looks absolutely amazing! Your Nonna sounds like an amazing woman and cook. It’s only 10:00 in the morning and now I’m craving meatballs! Ha. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!

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