Aunt Julie's Meatballs

February 10, 2010
Author Notes

When I was growing up, we were one of 4 families who celebrated holidays and special occasions together. Each of the moms had their special food that they made (and that we all came to expect), and one of my favorites was Aunt Julie's meatballs--in a sweet and tart tomato sauce. This is classic 1960's party food--which I can't even claim to have updated all that much, although I do use better quality ingredients. As recently as this past Christmas, my (Jewish) mother had our annual Jingle Bells party, and everyone who came to the party made a beeline for Aunt Julie's meatballs. This is my version of her recipe. It's perfect for a Sunday night "Mad Men" party. - drbabs —drbabs

Test Kitchen Notes

It’s no surprise why this is always a favorite at the annual drbabs family holiday party. These little meatballs are tasty! I expected the brown sugar plus vinegar plus Worcestershire to result in a barbeque sauce glaze but, in fact, their flavors just blend in to create a beautifully caramelized tomato sauce that’s not overly sweet. We made two batches, one with ground light and dark meat turkey, in balls about twice the size as the recipe calls for. They too were amazing; leftovers made an outstanding grinder the next day. This one's a keeper!! - AntoniaJames —The Editors

  • Serves about 40 small meatballs
  • Meatballs
  • 2 pounds Ground beef
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2/3 cup dry fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • Meatball Sauce
  • 1 medium onion, chopped very fine
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced or put through a garlic press
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups pureed tomatoes (I use 1 box of Pomi )
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
In This Recipe
  1. Meatballs
  2. Mix all ingredients together and shape into small balls. (I use a melon baller.) Place in baking pan and cover with sauce, below.
  1. Meatball Sauce
  2. Saute onions in oil till softened and lightly browned. Stir in garlic--don't let it brown.
  3. Add pureed tomatoes, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Simmer, uncovered, for about 5 minutes.
  4. Pour sauce over meatballs. Bake at 350, covered, for 30 minutes, and uncovered for another 45 minutes. Serve warm (I use a crock pot because I don't have a chafing dish.) with toothpicks.

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