Grandma’s Meatballs and Sauce – Sicilian Style

I have been promising this video ever since I started my channel over a year ago. But, it wasn’t so easy getting my 84 year old grandma in front of the camera and YouTube audience. I must say she did a fantastic job! (Not that I EVER had any doubt she would…)

When I was growing up, we went to my grandparents’ house every Sunday for meatballs and sausage, smothered in sauce, on top of a much too large bed of pasta. This is a recipe my grandma learned from her mother, my great grandma Rosa. They are from Sicily.

Back in 2010, I made my very first cooking video. Not for YouTube, but just for our family to preserve my grandma’s recipe. I was tired of hearing family members say the same phrase about various family favorites, “this tastes good, but it doesn’t taste like so and so’s.” I decided to start documenting. This was actually how the idea for Chef Stef came to me. If I was making videos for a youtube channel with my grandparents to share with the world, then it wasn’t as morbid as “I’m documenting this because I know one day you won’t be with us anymore…” And then Chef Stef kind of exploded into this huge channel from there! Now, I’ve had SO many guests, including my dad, brother, cousin, all 4 grandparents and some friends and family friends. (Mom is next, don’t worry!) It has turned into a super fun, bonding experience.

This recipe will make about 25 good sized meatballs. If you want to make less, you can simply cut the ingredients in half!

2 lbs chopped meat

1-2 eggs

1 tsp salt/pepper

1 tsp garlic powder

3 cloves minced garlic

1/4 cup breadcrumbs

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

2 32 oz. cans crushed tomatoes

3 tbl olive oil (enough to cover bottom of frying pan)

2 more cloves garlic

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp salt/pepper

Fresh basil

1. Mash the chopped meat and add in 1 egg. If it’s too dry and difficult to mix, for example if you’re using very lean meat, add a second egg.

2. Add the salt, pepper, garlic powder (or as grandma says, “gahlic” powder. There’s that Italian new yorker accent I love!), and minced garlic cloves. If you love garlic, feel free to add more, if you don’t, use less! My grandfather is perfectly happy to stick an entire raw clove in his mouth, so there is always a lotttt of garlic in our food.

3. Add the breadcrumbs. We use the breadcrumbs that have Italian seasonings already in it. If you use regular breadcrumbs, feel free to throw in a teaspoon of Italian seasonings, like parsley, basil, oregano, etc. And then add 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese.

4. Add in a few tablespoons of your crushed tomatoes to keep the mixture moist. We love the Cento brand. She thinks it tastes the most like her mommy’s. (I am in no way being endorsed by that brand. She’s just always used it and she wanted to include it in the video! How could I say no? She’s just so cute!)

5. Put your olive oil in a large frying pan and heat up. When hot, start rolling your meat into palm sized balls and place gently in the frying pan. Be careful, you don’t want to get splattered with hot oil! When they turn brown on the bottom, flip them over. Take them out and place in a bowl when they are brown on all sides.

6. Do not clean out the pan! Leave all that good stuff at the bottom and add 2 more cloves on garlic. (I told you we use a lot!) When they start to brown, add your cans of crushed tomatoes. Again, carefully, trying to avoid splatter. To clean out the can, add a little water, swish around the sides, and add to the pan!

7. To the sauce add the oregano, salt and pepper. Mix together. When it begins to bubble a few minutes later, add the meatballs in slowly. (You can also make the sauce in a large sauce pot by the way.) You can let this sit for a few hours, or if you’re dying to eat, at least wait 30 minutes so it can absorb some of the flavors! The best sauce is when it’s been sitting on the stove for a few hours! Add fresh basil, too!!

Comfort food to the MAX! Nom nom. Let grandma and I know if you make her meatballs! Enjoy!


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