Make Ahead

Myrtle's Meatball Recipe

August  8, 2010
5 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves a family of 3 to 5
Author Notes

My mom was scarcely an avid cook, but she did make a few things really well, especially her meatballs, her beef stew, and her apple pie. Because she passed away recently, in her honor I want to preserve this recipe. This may not be award-winning to anybody else, but it is pretty special to me. She grew up with Fanny Farmer's cookbook and appreciated classic, simple, uncomplicated food. This meal brought contentment to everyone in our family. —Sagegreen

Test Kitchen Notes

Talk about comfort food. The kitchen was filled with a wonderful warmth and aroma from cooking up the meatballs and making the sauce. The meatballs were little bombs of flavor, tender and juicy. And the best thing was the simplicity. This recipe was a breeze to put together, a perfect option for during the week. We truly enjoyed this recipe! A special thanks to Sagegreen for sharing it with us. —adamnsvetcooking

What You'll Need
  • 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
  1. Mix the oatmeal, egg, cheese, thyme, oregano, 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, salt, and pepper together. Gently add the beef. Roll to form 1-inch balls.
  2. Spray a skillet with oil (if your beef is lean) and bring to high/medium-high heat.
  3. Add the meatballs to hot skillet to brown on all sides, but do not cook through, then transfer them to a plate (my mother put them directly into the Dutch oven).
  4. Saute the onion, green pepper, and garlic (if using) in the skillet. Add the rosé wine (this can help deglaze the pan) and then add everything in the skillet to the Dutch oven.
  5. Add and mix the remaining tomato paste, stewed tomatoes, and herb sprigs in the Dutch oven and bring to a simmer.
  6. Add the seared meatballs and continue to simmer slowly for 35 to 40 minutes. Adjust the seasoning, if needed.
  7. Remove the herb sprigs and bay leaf before serving. Serve with spaghetti and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fresh chopped parsley.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • MrsBeeton
  • mdelgatty
  • Sagegreen
  • zazafrasca
  • JoanG

18 Reviews

MrsBeeton November 9, 2020
Oh, this was so yummy! I used a mixture of ground pork and ground beef for added tenderness in the meat balls. And instead of simmering it on the stove, I just popped the Dutch oven in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes. Easy peasy, and totally delish. This one's a keeper.
Sagegreen November 12, 2020
Thanks, MrsBeeton! Glad to know that your oven method worked well with this recipe.
mdelgatty May 22, 2020
where is the photo of Mom?
Sagegreen May 22, 2020
Use the white cursor arrow (in the middle of the first photo) to scroll on over to it!
Sagegreen August 15, 2010
I think I grew up overcooking meatballs! Probably the times on all my recipes should be reduced.
zazafrasca August 13, 2010
Mom's do make the best meatballs. I hope you post Myrtle's Apple Pie recipe someday. Fantastic picture. What a glamorous mother you had.
Sagegreen August 13, 2010
Thanks! I will be making the pie this fall: it was her very best recipe.
JoanG August 10, 2010
I have enjoyed a similar recipe, also cooked ina meatloaf. Lovely tribute to your mom! My mother had the same approach to cooking as yours ,and also loved her Fanny farmer cookbook.
Sagegreen August 11, 2010
My mom had the exact same recipe for meatloaf now that you mention that!
drbabs August 10, 2010
So glad you posted this! In May we had a "best thing your mother taught you" contest and we all posted photos of our moms--so glad you were able to post yours.
Sagegreen August 10, 2010
Sorry I hadn't discovered the site then. That is a contest I will have to find to take a look.
Lizthechef August 10, 2010
Yes, check out the Mom's Day posts - they are wonderful. Love the light in your Mom's eyes - thumbs up!
adamnsvetcooking August 10, 2010
Your mom was very pretty, and her recipe sounds amazing! I am always bias to a recipe that has a bay leaf in the ingredients list.
Sagegreen August 10, 2010
Thnaks. She was pretty wonderful!
Lizthechef August 8, 2010
So sorry you lost your Mom! My mother is gone now as well, and she was a Fanny Farmer fan too, as am I. Thanks for sharing her recipe - lovely photo!
Sagegreen August 8, 2010
Thanks. You are welcome. I was reared on Fanny Farmer! It is a classic.
lapadia August 8, 2010
Pretty picture of your mom, and hats off to your mom's meatballs!
Sagegreen August 8, 2010
Thank you!