Homemade flavorful Classic Italian Meatballs in a delicious red sauce with a secret ingredient will make your mouth dance. I promise – it’s not too good to be true.
You need proper hot food to keep your body and soul warm on days like these – and this Classic Italian Meatballs and Best Tomato Sauce bowl is just the thing. The hot sticky spaghetti noodles, the fresh herbs and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. There’s a lot to love about this meal.
The tomato sauce on its own is a killer! All because there is a secret ingredient in it – anchovies. Yes. These tiny cured fish pack a wallop of flavor in tiny amounts, and because of that, chefs like to add them to everything from salad dressings to stews to spike up the flavors. They deliver umami taste, inducing flavor with multiple layers. But the trick is that you can’t taste anchovies at all! Trust me, no fishy smell and no one will ever know you have added it. I’ve shared the recipe for this tomato sauce before while making this homemade pizza.
The meatballs are really soft and moist. And there is a secret to it too – bread. Not breadcrumbs. It’s just plain sandwich bread. The bread is soaked in milk first to soften, and it literally disintegrates when mixed with the ground meat. And while cooking, it sort of separates the meat particles, almost creating little air pockets in the meatballs. This makes for a moister meatball, and the milk actually helps keep them tender.
I hope you make this Classic Italian Meatballs and Best Tomato Sauce soon as it’s a true crowd pleaser!
- 2 pieces of white bread, soaked in milk
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1 large onion, grated
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ parmesan cheese, grated
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil for frying
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 6 anchovy fillets
- 8 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp dried Italian herbs
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 (24 oz) cans of San Marzano tomatoes
- 1 tsp salt, or to taste
- 1 tsp black pepper, or to taste
- 1 tsp sugar
- ⅛ tsp baking soda
- Pasta of choice
- Parmesan cheese
- Squeeze the milk out of the milk soaked bread with your hands. Use the bread and discard the milk.
- Combine the bread with the rest of the meatballs ingredients and use you hands to mix well.
- Measure out approximately a tablespoon of the mixture and roll lightly to form a ball. Repeat with the remaining mixture.
- Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or a large non stick fry pan over medium high heat.
- Add the meatballs in batches to the pan and cook until brown. Gently shake the pan to move meatballs around and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes.
- Carefully transfer them onto a plate.
- In a medium sauce pan heat the olive oil over medium heat and add anchovy fillets.
- Once the fillets start simmering add garlic and sauté for a few minutes.
- Add the dried herbs and red pepper flakes.
- Pour in the tomatoes and bring to a boil.
- Season with salt, sugar and pepper.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 30-45 minutes stirring occasionally.
- At the end add baking soda, mix and turn off the heat. The addition of baking soda will help neutralize and balance the acidity of the sauce. (Note 1)
- Carefully transfer the meatballs and any juices that have pooled on the plate into the sauce.
- Cook the meatballs for 10 minutes, turning and stirring occasionally.
- While the meatballs are cooking, cook your pasta of choice.
- Serve the meatballs and sauce on pasta, garnished with extra parmesan cheese.