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Monster Meatballs with Basil Marinara Sauce

In Italian, Main Course, Pasta, Pork, Recipe, Sauces / Condiments
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Peyton and I rolled a bunch of these meat bombs the other night, inspired by a bag of basil marinara sauce I found in the bottom of our freezer (I know what you're thinking...enough with the freezer food already!)  I'm starting to get concerned that the thing is bottomless. 

The last time we crafted meatballs, we whipped up some chevre stuffed lamb beauties, but this time were in the mood for something a bit more traditional.  I didn’t have a recipe handy, but recalled seeing a gorgeous looking meatball recently on my friend Rose’s great blog, The Bite Me Kitchen, so we went there for a look see.

What immediately struck me about Rose’s post was the photo of her large, solitary meatball, nestled into a deep pool of marinara, and topped with melting burrata cheese.  I love the impact of serving one huge ball, rather than a few smaller ones, and the topping of melted cheese (we used a fresh mozzarella as we couldn’t find any burrata), makes for a very dramatic and tasty dish.

Making the balls takes just a few minutes, then a combination of cooking techniques; a quick bake, then a longer braise, renders the meatballs nicely browned, perfectly tender, and absolutely delicious.  Serve these with Rose’s marinara, the one detailed below, or your favorite from scratch recipe.

Peyton and I used my kitchen scale to measure out six of these monsters to ensure no one cried foul, or felt ripped off by getting a ball any smaller than everyone else at the table....you must be careful about these things, you know.  The marinara we used was leftover from the braciole we made earlier in the season.

Enjoy! - Steve



Monster Meatballs with Basil Marinara Sauce

By: Rose at "The Bite Me Kitchen" and Cucina Alessa (a So. Cal Restaurant)

(Print Friendly Recipe)



  • 2/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 hot Italian sausages, casings removed
  • 1 lb ground veal or ground pork


  1. Mix crumbs and milk in medium bowl; let stand 5 minutes. 
  2. Mix in Parmesan, onion, basil, egg, garlic and pepper. Add sausage, ground meat, and blend well. 
  3. Using wet hands, form the mixture into 3-inch balls. Place on baking sheet (freeze balls on parchment lined sheet that you're not eating, then transfer to ziplock bag). 
  4. Bake until meatballs are light brown and cooked through, about 30 minutes, turning once. 
  5. Add to sauce. Simmer, covered, 1 hr until tender, spooning sauce over and turning occasionally.
  6. Just before serving, top with burrata, fresh mozzarella or parmesan and cover the pan for a few minutes to let the cheese melt.
  7. Serve in shallow bowls or over pasta for a more filling meal.

For the recipe we used to make our Basil Marinara, click here: Basil Marinara Sauce


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"Oui, Chef" exists as an extension of my efforts to teach my kids a few things about cooking, and how their food choices over time effect not only their own health, but that of our local food communities and our planet at large. By sharing some of our cooking experiences, I hope to inspire other families to start spending more time together in the kitchen, passing on established familial food traditions, and starting some new ones. Read more...
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