Rainy Days and Meatballs


My simple, but delicious, meatball recipe. Perfect for rainy days and Sunday suppers

Back in May and June we had spectacular weather. Days of sun and 70’s to low 80’s with low humidity. My daughter lives in New Mexico, and I’d text her every morning and tease her about how we were going to have another terrible day of perfect weather. I’d finish that text by saying “we’re soooo going to pay for this later!’

And pay for it we have. It feels like all it has done since late July is pour buckets of rain. Our garden continues to do well, but only because it is raised and I have exceptional well draining soil. It’s been an ugly ugly year for gardening in the 607 and Finger Lakes.  

We were having another rainy day last week, and it was just cool enough that pasta was a must. Therefore, so were meatballs. I rarely make them anymore since it’s just the two of us. It’s not a fuss to make them so I’m not sure why I don’t do it more often. Regardless, it was the right time and place, and I had ground beef from Engelbert Farm, our own ground pork, duck eggs, onions, herbs and garlic, along with a lonely roll from Jim Roma’s Bakery. Before the day ended I also ended up with sauce and pasta made too, but those are the subject of a future post. 

Some things to note before making these:

Duck eggs have a much bigger yolk and higher protein than chicken eggs, if using chicken eggs, you may need to add a splash of milk for moisture. 

I’m using organic and organically managed pastured protein, which does change the texture of the finished product. I find that the fat of commercially raised beef, pork and chicken renders out along with the wash and injected solutions added to keep the meat plump and attractive for mass packaging and the freeze and thaw. This leads to a tough meatball. The meat of grass animals will contain fat like commercially raised feed lot animals, however, when it’s heated the fat does what it should, it renders slowly and evenly, binding with the protein to create a lush and silkie mouth feel. It is absolutely worth the investment to use the best quality meats you can find. 

These meatballs are heavily seasoned. Nothing is more disappointing than a bland meatball! But save the basil for your sauce. 

The bread for binder is a simple bakery hard roll, torn into small pieces and roughly chopped. You’re aiming for about 1/2 cup starch per 1 pound of protein. I do not use dry bread crumbs in my meatballs. I feel it’s a waste of energy to soak dry crumbs to hydrate them, when you could just use fresh bread to begin with. I prefer the texture of the meatballs with fresh bread as well.

You can pulse the roll in the food processor along with the herbs, garlic and onion if you prefer. I like the rustic texture. You do you ;)

Classic Meatballs

by Colleen Cheechalk  

Approximately 20 meatballs

  • 1lb ground beef

  • 1lb ground pork

  • 2 duck eggs

  • 1 small hard roll torn and roughly chopped

  • 1 small yellow onion minced

  • 3 large garlic cloves minced

  • 1T fresh parsley finely chopped

  • 1T fresh oregano finely chopped

  • 1T fresh rosemary finely chopped

  • 1t sea salt

  • 1T fresh ground black pepper

  • ghee or olive oil for frying

1. With lightly oiled hands and an equally light touch, mix the meat, bread, eggs, onion, garlic and herbs. Think of the mix like you were making pie crust or biscuits. You don’t want to mash everything into a paste, or hard homogeneous mass. Your just incorporating all the ingredients together.  

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of ghee in a large skillet over medium heat.  

3. While the ghee heats, roll the mixture into approximately 1-1/2 inch meatballs. Re-oil your hands if the mix starts to stick. 

4. Add half the meatballs to the pan and cook until nicely browned on all sides and remove from for the pan to paper towel lined dish, cook the remaining meatballs, adding additional ghee if needed. 

5. If there is more than 1 tablespoon of fat in the pan, which is rare if using grass fed protein, remove all but one tablespoon, add your favorite sauce...a jar or two, return the meatballs to the sauce, and cook over medium low heat for approximately 20 minutes. I used a 32 ounce jar of my homemade sauce and 1/2 the meatballs. 

6. While the meatballs and sauce cook, boil water for your favorite pasta, cook, drain, and serve with the meatballs and sauce. I made my favorite pasta, Strozzapreti, which is similar to Cavatelli. I’ll share that recipe in a future post!  

7. Garnish with ribbons of basil and Parmigiano Reggiano, Asiago, or Romano. I used Engelbert Farms Moochego, which I finally had a chance to try, and loved it!

These meatballs will freeze well with or without sauce, but really...when do meatballs ever make it to the freezer?  

If you decide to try this recipe, please snap a picture and tag me or comment below, I’d love your feedback!