When I was in Lugano, Switzerland, I had a small studio apartment and a lovely neighbor who was a fabulous Italian cook. During this time, I was. not. a. cook. She offered to teach me a few of her easiest dishes. I eagerly jumped at the chance!
Life couldn’t get much better. I was staying in beautiful Lugano, eating some of the finest food Switzerland has to offer and learning how to make a few of my favorite dishes! A total score!
I wasn’t always a meatball aficionado. However, I was dining at a small trattoria when I spied some very large meatballs floating on a serving tray making their way through the dining area. They smelled heavenly! I don’t know if it was the ambiance of the trattoria, the lovely view of Lugano or … was it … I actually wanted those meatballs? So odd for me, I usually go straight for the seafood never, ever the meatballs.
Later that evening, my neighbor and I were chatting over a glass of wine. I told her of my meatball eating experience and asked if she could teach me how to make T.H.O.S.E meatballs. She smiled at me sheepishly and said T.H.O.S.E. meatballs are my meatballs. She went on to say that the mother of the trattoria owner was a friend of hers for years. Together they created a very popular meatball recipe which in turn was offered at the trattoria. Holy crap! I felt like I won the lottery!
She gave me a list of ingredients and told me it was market day in the square. Her instructions were to only buy the meats from one vendor and produce from another. These vendors offered the freshest meats and produce in the market. She went on to say that if she were to teach me to cook, she would also teach me to use the finest ingredients available as it made a big difference in the outcome of the recipe.
Dutifully, I made my way through the market, raced to my neighbor’s and we got started on T.H.O.S.E Meatballs!
Are you ready to get started?! …
Makes 8 large meatballs
- 1 lb grass-fed ground chuck
- 1 lb grass-fed ground pork
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 5 cloves of garlic, finely diced
- 1 small red pepper, finely diced
- 2 egg, slightly whisked
- 2 slices of day old bread
- 1 to 2 Tb milk
- 3 tsp thyme
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil for searing the meatballs
Add all the ingredients, except the bread and milk, to a large mixing bowl.
In a small bowl, break up the bread, add the milk and let soak until the milk has been absorbed.
Using your hands, thoroughly mix all the ingredients in the large mixing bowl.
Once thoroughly mixed, drain off any milk that did not absorb into the bread and add the bread to the meat mixture.
Once again, mix thoroughly to incorporate the bread into the meat mixture.
Let meat mixture rest in the refrigerator for approximately 15 to 20 minutes. The flavors will marry and the meat will firm up a bit.
Using enough meat mixture to fit in the palm of your hand, roll into a ball.
You will notice that the meat seems a little loose. It’s okay, this is what makes the meatballs so moist.
Make all your meatballs and keep on a sheet tray.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Heat a cast iron skillet until very hot so you get a nice sear on the meatballs.
Add a swirl of EVOO to the cast iron pan and sear the meatballs on all sides while maintaining the shape.
Note: I’m not real good with keeping my meatballs round but I get better every time I cook them. My neighbor … she made it look easy!
Once meatballs are seared, put the entire pan in the oven for approximately 30 to 35 minutes to finish off.
Let meatballs rest for 15 minutes prior to serving.
Bonus: Double the recipe to freeze finished meatballs for another meal, meatball hoagies or meatball sandwiches.
Do you have a meatball recipe that is your family’s favorite?
See you in the comments,