Chef Notes: Holy Meatballs - Sweet Potato Chronicles - Sweet Potato Chronicles

Chef Notes: Holy Meatballs

There are few foods more per­fect, more entic­ing, more ver­sa­tile than meat­balls. While a lit­tle messy (no one likes form­ing the balls, they get your hands slimy) they’re easy to make and per­fect for mak­ing large batches and freez­ing for later. The serv­ing ideas are almost end­less. They make great appe­tiz­ers with no sauce or in a mari­nara, creamy mush­room gravy, or bar­be­cue sauce served with tooth­picks. You can use them in soups or on top of warm/wilted sal­ads. They’re awe­some served in sand­wich rolls with melted cheese and mari­nara sauce for a game day treat. You can’t beat tra­di­tional spaghetti and meat­balls. Try crum­bling them up on home­made pizza. Or do a gor­geous retro dish like Swedish meatballs. 

Here’s my recipe, adapted from Mario Batali’s. I change this up from time-to-time by switch­ing up the herbs and spices, leav­ing out the dried fruit alto­gether, or switch­ing up the raisins for some other dried fruit, which believe it or not does add some­thing to the balls. The recipe dou­bles well and you can sub­sti­tute turkey for the veal or pork but I encour­age you to use at least two dif­fer­ent meats as your balls will have a bet­ter tex­ture and a richer fla­vor. You can also use the fat free evap­o­rated milk if you pre­fer and reg­u­lar raisins or even other dried fruits like figs, apri­cots, prunes, and pineap­ple work well too.

Amanda's Meat­balls

Olive oil (not EVOO just regular)

1 large onion, finely diced

3 large cloves gar­lic, finely diced

½ cup golden raisins, finely chopped

3 T basil, fine chiffonade

3 large eggs

1 can evap­o­rated milk

1 whole nut­meg, finely grated (optional)

1 lb ground pork

1 lb ground beef

1 lb ground veal

Sea­soned panko breadcrumbs

Kosher salt to taste

Freshly ground black pep­per to taste


Heat oven to 375.  In a sauté pan, caramelize the onions, gar­lic, and raisins over med-low heat.  Remove from heat, stir in the basil and sea­son to taste with salt and pep­per.  Let cool slightly and add to a blender with the eggs, milk, and nut­meg to taste (I use all of it but not every­one is as crazy about nut­meg as I).  Blend until fairly smooth.

Pour into a large mix­ing bowl with the meats. Sprin­kle gen­er­ously with bread­crumbs, remem­ber you can always add more but I don’t know of any way to remove them.  Sea­son well with salt and pep­per.  Using your hands, mix until incor­po­rated.  Don’t over mix.  Over mix­ing can make your meat­balls too dense.  The mix­ture should be fairly wet so that when you form your test ball it holds together, but just barely.  Add more bread­crumbs if nec­es­sary.  Quickly sauté one or two golf ball sized balls in a bit of olive oil and taste to ensure proper sea­son­ing.  Adjust if necessary.

Hand form the rest of your balls, plac­ing them in lightly oiled sheet pans with an inch or so between them, you want them to bake, not steam.  Bake for 25–30 min­utes.  Test for done­ness by cut­ting one open.  They should be cooked through, with no pink in the mid­dle.  If you are adding them to a soup or sauce you can gen­tly stir them in imme­di­ately, pro­vided that the soup/sauce is fully pre­pared.  You don’t want to over­cook the meat­balls by hav­ing them sim­mer in your sauce or soup for any sig­nif­i­cant amount of time, 10–15 min­utes is more than ade­quate to incor­po­rate the fla­vors.  Or you can cool the balls for a few min­utes and refrig­er­ate for about one week or store in the freezer for 2–3 months.



  1. jan Clements says:

    They also make great after-school snacks and are much health­ier than sweets. The kids love them on rolls or Eng­lish muffins. The pro­tein holds them well until din­ner and does not raise blood sugar as do sweet snacks. Love the sub­sti­tu­tion suggestions.

  2. Michelle says:

    What if you wanted to remove the evap­o­rated milk alto­gether? If I were to make these kosher-style, can I just leave out the milk?

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