These Classic Italian Braised Meatballs are full of flavor and infused with red wine for some extra zing. Braising is the key. This quick and simple recipe will give you amazingly tender meatballs and a beautifully full flavored Easy Italian Red Sauce in a little over an hour.
Spaghetti and meatballs is a class Italian-American dish and an all American dinner staple. Every home cook needs to have a great meatball recipe. This recipe delivers perfect meatballs and great sauce every time.
Making meals quickly is all about work-flow.
The red sauce used for braising comes together very quickly, but it needs a little time to simmer and come together. I always start my Italian Red Sauce first. While the sauce is cooking, I make the meatballs. This way I am using the sauce cook time wisely and moving the recipe forward.
Once the Red Sauce is cooking away, start working on the Italian Meatballs.
Choose the right meat for perfect meatballs.
Ground Beef– First, start by choosing higher fat ground beef. Don’t try to get calorie conscience by picking up 90/10 ground beef. Instead, use 80/20 ground beef. The extra fat is going to help get a smooth texture and retain moisture.
Italian Sausage– You will also need ground sausage. I use one pound of ground beef and ¼ pound of Italian sausage. Choose your favorite sausage. If it comes in link form use one or two links and remove the meat from the casing to cook.
Season meatballs well and add the right wet ingredients to get bold Italian flavors and moist tender meat.
Granulated Garlic and Onion– When you buy dry spices, it is important to choose high quality ingredients. If you have been using powdered onion and garlic, I recommend switching to granulated. Powdered products lack the intensity of granulated products and can clump. If you only have powdered, you can still make the recipe, but you may need more to get the full flavor.
Flavor the meats with dry seasoning. Dry seasonings will flavor all of the meat uniformly and keep the texture smooth. Adding chopped raw onions or garlic creates a chunky meatball with
Add some bread crumb, Parmesan, and eggs. The cheese adds nice saltiness. The bread crumb and eggs help bind everything together.
My final secret is a bit of red wine. Wine adds a nice tangy flavor and even more moisture.
Wet your hands with some water to keep the meat from sticking.
Rolling meatballs was something I did with my great grandmother as a kid. I didn’t like the way the meat stuck to my hands. She taught me to wet my hands with water to prevent sticking. A little water on your hands will help you roll a nice round ball.
Form the meat into 12 balls. They will be a little less than 2oz apiece.
Baking or frying meatballs is a personal choice.
You can bake these meatballs on a tray or fry them. I tend to gravitate towards the least messy method of cooking anything so I almost always bake these beauties on a baking sheet.
Baking meatballs is super simple. Form the balls and place them on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes. You need them to be browned to seal in the juices.
If you fry them, be sure to use a little olive oil in the pan and carefully cook the meatballs. Be sure to turn them a few times to get a nice brown color all around the meatball.
Finally, finish both the sauce and Italian braised meatballs by bringing them together in the sauce pot.
Let the meatballs braise in the red sauce for thirty minutes. Some of the delicious fats from the meatballs will flavor the sauce and the bright, tangy red sauce will flavor the meatballs.
Serve the final dish over pasta or polenta.
For more instruction, please view the video.
Italian Braised Meatballs
- 2 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Yellow Onion Diced
- 2 cloves Garlic
- 1/2 Cup Red Wine
- 1 Cup Chicken Broth
- 1 29 oz Cans ground or Crushed Tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp Butter
- 1 Tbsp Tomato Paste
- 2 Tbsp Granulated Garlic
- 2 Tbsp Granulated Onion
- 2 Tb Parsley
- 1 Tsp Oregano
- 1 Tsp. Sugar
- 1 lb Ground Beef 80/20
- 1/4 lb Italian Sausage Spicy
- 1 Cup Bread Crumbs Plain
- 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan
- 2 Eggs
- 1/2 Cup Red Wine Cabernet Sauvignon or Chianti
- 1 Tbsp Granulated Garlic
- 1 Tbsp Granulated Onion
- 1 Tbsp Parsley
- 1/2 Tsp Oregano
- Salt and Pepper
- Dice onion, peel and chop garlic, and set aside.
- Heat sauce pot on medium. Add olive oil to hot pot and then add onions. Stir regularly. Once the onions are nearly cooked (soft and translucent), add garlic and season with 1/2 your dry seasonings. It's important to start with 1/2 the amount of seasonings and taste throughout cooking so you can add and adjust as you go.
- Add Red wine and scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Let the wine simmer and reduce by half.
- Add broth, tomatoes, sugar, and butter and stir until it is well incorporated.
- Taste and add remaining seasonings a little at a time until you get the desired taste.
- Simmer on med/low heat for 30 minutes.
- Add meatballs for an extra 30minutes to get a rich sauce or cook for 1 hr total without meat for a lighter marinara.
- Pre-heat oven to 350°.
- In a large bowl, mix ground beef, Italian sausage, breadcrumb, parmesan, wine, and dry spiced together. Mix until it is well combined.
- Form 12 meatballs and place them on a foil lined sheet pan.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Meatballs need to be browned. They will continue to cook in the braising sauce. If you are not going to put them in sauce to finish cooking, be sure they are fully cooked with an internal temperature of 165° at the center of the meatball.
- Place the browned meatballs into the Easy Italian Red Sauce and cook on low for 30 minutes.
- Serve over cooked pasta or polenta.