Friday, March 6, 2009

Recipe: The World's Best Meatballs

Yup, you are reading right. The recipe below represents what are in my opinion THE WORLD'S BEST MEATBALLS. They are the result of over 2 years of tinkering and intensive dedicated meatball research. This recipe also has one hell of a pedigree, its origins having come from the hallowed halls of Rao's, one of the most famous and exclusive of Italian eateries in the world.

Even with those distinguished origins the resulting meatballs still didn't pass my personal taste test. They were good, but needed improvement and that took some trial and error and tweaking. This is not to say that I think I am a greater cook than those in great restaurants, only that I know what I like and want, and I am going to go to lengths to get it. I'm not like this with every recipe I prepare, but hey I'm talking THE WORLD'S BEST MEATBALLS!

When I finally came to the recipe I liked best, I prepared it a number of times to make sure it was consistently good and trust me, it is. You can even vary things a little and still get fantastic results. Sometimes when I want lots of meatballs I triple the recipe and use half ground turkey and half beef/pork/veal in the meat mixture. Then I fry them all, let 'em simmer a bit in sauce and then just freeze meatball after meatball after meatball knowing that I'll always have a few when I need them (and I need them often because, in case you have not figured it out by now, they are: THE WORLD'S BEST MEATBALLS).

If I have to warn you about anything, it would be the parmigiano-reggiano. Sure, its expensive cheese and you might be inclined to substitute its inexpensive cousin pecorino-romano for it. Do that at your own peril! These are THE WORLD'S BEST MEATBALLS and being such they demand parmigiano-reggiano! Oh, and that is PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO, it comes in a wedge, you can't shake it out of a green can. If you want THE WORLD'S GREATEST MEATBALLS you have to have parmigiano-reggiano.

The World's Best Meatballs

Sundried Tomato Marinara Sauce
1 lb. ground lean beef
1/2 lb. ground veal
1/2 lb. ground pork
2 large eggs
1 cup fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 small garlic clove peeled and minced
2 cups Italian-style bread crumbs
Salt & pepper to taste
2 cups warm water
1 cup olive oil

In a large pan, prepare the Sundried Tomato Marinara Sauce recipe. You may, as an alternative use any marinara recipe you like, but if you do, these will only be great meatballs, not THE WORLD'S BEST MEATBALLS. Keep on a low simmer.

In a large bowl thoroughly and evenly blend the beef, veal, pork, eggs, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, garlic, Italian style breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Add the water a little at a time as necessary to keep the mixture pliable and a little on the moist side. You may not use all the water or you may require a little more.

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil.

While the oil heats up begin making your meatballs by using an ice cream scoop to measure out each meatball. Roll the meat between your palms to firmly roll each meatball until round and well formed.

Place the meatball in the hot oil turning it occasionally until it is browned all over. You can do several meatballs at a time in this way.

When each meatball is browned, remove it from the oil. Allow any excess oil to drain from it and then place it in the simmering sauce. Complete this process with every meatball. Simmer for an additional 20 minutes.

Serve with pasta or in sandwiches. The flavor improves overnight.

The World's Greatest Meatballs from Chop Onions, Boil Water - World Food at Home by Henry Krauzyk


  1. The BEST? Promise?? I'll have to give it a try and see :)

    I'm glad I found your blog :) You gave me something new to follow. I look forward to future posts!

  2. Hey Mel,

    Well, the best in my opinions! : ) Thanks for the kind comments! I'm presently working on the bigger, better Chop Onions, Boil Water Ver. 2.0 so stay tuned!

    I'll check out your blog as well.


  3. Hey Henry,

    Did you ever try baking these instead of frying?


  4. Hey Heidi,

    I don't bake meatballs because I think the olive oil imparts important flavor. That said, I can't see why you couldn't bake them, they should set just fine.

  5. Henry: This is the exact same recipe as they use at Rao's in Harlem. And I've been using that since the 60's.

  6. You're nearly right you've outed me mostly. The basis for the recipe came from a Rao recipe, but I changed a few things (Parmesan-Reggiano, instead of the called for Pecorino-Romano and one or two other things). Excuse the hyperbole of my writing for dramatic effect. This was an early recipe, before I understood citing - etc. Thank you.

  7. I sincerely hope I didn't offend you in any way. That wasn't my intent. And actually, you are correct about the cheese. My recipe card for Meatballs and Gravy (in my dear grandmothers handwriting) states "P-R" cheese. And by some quirk, I have been using Parmesan-Reggiano for all of these years. No wonder your recipe looked familiar. My apologies to you sir and Happy Holidays.

  8. No apologies necessary! I'm glad you called me out and I was able to clarify my source for the recipe. Credit for inspiration and source should go where it is due! Also, as we both now know - the meatballs are better with Parmesan-Reggiano! Thanks for writing and giving me the opportunity to be accurate. Happy Holidays to you!