Uncle Junior's Meatballs

Source: Gio Betteo, Rookies, featuring Devil's Gulch Ranch

Recipe Type: | Seasons: , , ,

This recipe was demonstrated for CUESA’s Market to Table program on March 17, 2018.

This is my go-to meatball recipe for classic spaghetti and meatball dinner, meatball sub, or an easy and cost-effective dish for a potluck dinner. This recipe is versatile enough to add seasonal twists or sweet elements, such as currants and pine nuts (my personal favorite).

Makes 16 2 ounce meatballs


2 cups bread chunks (crust removed, preferably day old)
½ cup whole milk
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground Devil’s Gulch Ranch pork
4 large eggs
4 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 tablespoon salt
1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
½ cup oil or fat (I like to use ghee or a combination of butter and grapeseed oil) for cooking meatballs

2 quarts crushed tomatoes
Fresh basil (when in season)
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup chopped parsley or basil for serving
½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for serving


To prepare the meatballs: Combine milk and bread chunks in a large bowl, mashing and tossing until it’s a pudding-like texture. Combine bread slurry with meat and mix by hand until pork and beef are evenly mixed. Add all other ingredients to the bowl and mix by hand until they are evenly distributed. Measure 2 ounces (by weight) of mixture for each meatball. Shape the meatballs and set aside for 15 minutes or so, to temper the meat mixture in order to avoid cooking while they are too cold. This will allow your meatballs to cook evenly and avoid a rare center and dry outside. 

To cook the meatballs: Add the oil or fat (or combination – see notes above) to a sauté pan on medium heat. When the oil has heated and is shimmering, place the meatballs in the pan and brown on all sides, turning every three minutes or so and cooking for about 12 minutes total. Once meatballs are cooked through, remove from heat and place on a resting rack or on a dish with paper towels to drain excess oil.

To prepare the sauce: While resting your meatballs, add the tomatoes, olive oil, basil and seasoning to a medium sized pot. Allow the sauce to come to a simmer over medium heat. Once simmering, add meatballs to sauce and continue to simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes before serving, allowing the flavors to meld.

Serve meatballs in a bowl, garnishing with fresh parsley or basil and cheese. 

Farmers Market Ingredients