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Is This the Easiest Meatball Recipe, Ever?

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As Food52 gets older (and wiser), and our archive of recipes grows, we’re making the effort to revisit some stellar recipes from our community. Today's bowl of comfort comes from longtime Food52er Sagegreen.


"Everything seems okay with the world when these meatballs are in it," Sagegreen says of her mother Myrtle's recipe. She appreciated "classic, simple, uncomplicated food," and transformed a comforting (but time-consuming) dish into a weeknight-ready meal.

After giving high praise to the dish itself (both the flavorful, tender results and the wonderful aroma wafting through the kitchen), community member adamsvetcooking declared that the best part was its simplicity, adding: "This recipe was a breeze to put together, a perfect option for during the week."

James Ransom
James Ransom

One time-saving trick: Instead of searing the meatballs, making the sauce, then adding everything together, the recipe instructs cooks to make the sauce alongside the meatballs. The meatballs still hold together in this less-traditional method, which Sagegreen explained:

My mom was a very practical cook. I think the reasons she continued making the sauce in the Dutch oven without removing the meatballs is two-fold. First, she thought that the sauce would have more flavor more quickly if the meatballs remained in the pan. Second, I think she didn't want to have an extra step of taking out the meatballs and later having to put them back in. That would save washing up a plate! In fact, she always washed up the skillet right after searing the meatballs. She didn't want any dirty dishes to stand for a minute and wouldn't want to dirty another dish.

Sagegreen does suggest you tweak that method should you choose to make a double batch, as she often does. "It is a good idea to keep the seared meatballs in the skillet before developing the sauce in the Dutch oven," she says. "Pop them in the Dutch oven once the onions and peppers have softened in the sauce."

Myrtle's Meatball Recipe

Myrtle's Meatball Recipe

Sagegreen Sagegreen
Serves a family of 3 to 5
  • 3/4 cup rolled / old-fashioned oats
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup fresh, finely grated Parmesan cheese (plus additional for serving)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (plus additional to taste)
  • generous dash of cracked black pepper
  • 1 pound mix of ground sirloin and chuck
  • Spray vegetable oil for pan if meat is lean (I use a heat-tolerate olive oil)
  • 1 large yellow onion, (1/3-inch chop)
  • 1 green pepper, seeded (1/3-inch chop)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped, if you are a garlic fan (this was not part of our early recipe)
  • 4 cups stewed tomatoes with their juices, skins removed
  • 1/2 cup rosé wine (this was added later in our family and wasn't part of the early years of our recipe)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Sprigs of fresh thyme, oregano, and marjoram
  • fresh parsley, chopped for garnish
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Do you have a recipe that's been passed down in your family? Or one you want to make sure your future generations make? Let us know in the comments and it might be featured as one of our heirloom recipes!

Automagic Spring Menu Maker!
Automagic Spring Menu Maker!

Tags: Heirloom Recipes