The BEST Italian Meatballs EVER!

The best Italian Meatballs EVER

These Italian meatballs are the BEST EVER meatballs you will make, I promise! They're simple, with just a few ingredients but it's how you combine and cook them that makes these so absolutely moreish. They're soft and melt in the mouth and you will find yourself reaching for meatball after meatball. This is a pushy recipe Dear Reader!

These Italian meatballs are something special. Their texture is soft and yielding and are flavoured with a delicious, simple seasoning with a hint of lemon. The inspiration for making these meatballs is my friend Monica. She makes the best Italian meatballs but because she does it for her job (and they sell out quickly!) she couldn't just give me her recipe. They're actually quite similar to meatballs that I make except that she adds lemon zest to her meatballs and that is an absolutely genius idea.

The best Italian Meatballs EVER


1 - Use pork mince only (rather than pork and veal). This is also a tip from Monica. Don't use lean pork mince, you want it a bit fatty too. Ask your butcher for this.

2- Use fresh white breadcrumbs, not dried. Dried breadcrumbs will suck the moisture out of your mixture. I buy a loaf of bread and I pop any stale pieces and crusts into a Thermomix/food processor. I also add milk to the mixture to keep them moist.

3 - Use plenty of lemon zest to lighten the flavour. I use the zest of 2 lemons for this quantity of mince.

4 - Bake these low at 150C/300F. This is very important. They'll look almost pale but that's fine. Cooking at this temperature doesn't bake the moisture out of them.

5 - Serve it with your favourite sauce. I used a Truff black truffle arrabbiata sauce which was divine. But here is also a home made tomato pasta sauce recipe (also Monica's)

6 - Serve it with lots of parmigiana!

The best Italian Meatballs EVER

A few weeks ago I invited Valentina, her husband Pete and her daughter Katie over for linner (lunch-dinner). They invite us over all the time and I wanted to have them over so that they could meet Milo properly. But since we are in the midst of renovating I started to fret the night before about it all. Our dining table is piled high with boxes so we would have to eat outside which isn't a problem usually but La Nina rains means that you have to watch the weather like a hawk. And then eating outside isn't the nicest experience as there is a huge pile of debris opposite the outdoor dining table. The area that would normally hold the outdoor setting and camellia tree now houses an old bathtub, sink, old bricks and a huge pile of dirty wooden planks with nails.

The best Italian Meatballs EVER

Also that morning Mr NQN discovered another surprise in our garden (I must say I'm getting really sick of these "surprises"!). It was a huge 2x1.5 metre concrete slab an inch under the lawn. Previously he had found bits of concrete that he had picked out but never an enormous intact slab. We had no idea how the lady that owned the house before had managed to get lawn to grow because it was a lush green lawn when we bought it that had rapidly deteriorated. We guessed she had just slapped some turf on top in order to sell the house but there was our little "surprise". Mr NQN borrowed a jack hammer from our builder Peter and broke up the enormous slab into big chunks. And up until 2.55pm, 5 minutes before the Jones family arrived he was still hauling out chunks of concrete.

The best Italian Meatballs EVER
Pink lemonade using home grown lemons

I had warned Valentina that the backyard was a bit of a disaster zone but they're like family (except the family that you choose haha) so we knew that they wouldn't judge us for it. I made a huge batch of these meatballs for them along with pink lemonade using lemons from our backyard, a tomato and stracciatella salad, roasted carrots with truffle feta and walnuts and a radish and apple salad. But the meatballs were really the star of the meal, piled high on a big plate (actually a vintage plate that Valentina had given me).

Afterwards Valentina messaged me from a shop saying that she had bought some piping tips for me. And in return she didn't want the money, all she said was, "Don’t worry just give me that meatball recipe"!

So tell me Dear Reader, do you ever swap goods for recipes?

The best Italian Meatballs EVER
Milo got lots of cuddles from Katie

The BEST Meatballs EVER

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An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott

Preparation time: 20 minutes plus 1 hour resting time in fridge

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 6 people

  • 1kg/2.2lbs pork mince (not low fat)
  • 2 brown or white onions, peeled and very finely diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and finely diced
  • 100g/3.5ozs fresh white breadcrumbs (not dried)
  • 100ml/3.5flozs milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1litre/4 cups your favourite tomato pasta sauce
  • Pasta (allow to 125g/4ozs dried pasta per person)

The best Italian Meatballs EVER

Step 1 - Mix the pork mince with the onions, garlic, breadcrumbs, milk, beaten eggs and lemon zest mixing well to distribute everything - I find it easiest to get in there with your hands (use latex gloves if you wish). Add salt and pepper to season and test this out by frying a bit in a frying pan and testing for seasoning. Place in the fridge and allow to firm up for an hour.

The best Italian Meatballs EVER

Step 2 - Preheat oven to 150C/300F and line two baking trays with parchment. Roll the meatballs into large balls - I used a large ice cream scoop that helps to make them an even size. Drizzle with some oil and bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

The best Italian Meatballs EVER

The best Italian Meatballs EVER

Step 3 - While it is baking, heat up the sauce (I like to add a couple of tablespoons of cream to the tomato sauce) and at this stage you can start cooking the pasta 15 minutes before the meatballs are done. Gently bathe the meatballs in the sauce and serve with pasta or by themselves with plenty of grated reggiano.

The best Italian Meatballs EVER

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