my first meatball


So somehow I have gone my whole cooking “life” without ever making a meatball. It has literally never even crossed my mind. Strange, huh? I’ve had loads of delicious bbq meatballs at parties on toothpicks and loved them and never thought to ask for the recipe. And if I ever wanted spaghetti and meatball(s) I’d call up the road for some take out with a big bowl of garlic knots (yum! and I put the ‘s’ in parentheses because that wonderful place does one BIG meatball….mmm…). So after 3 days of having a fever and eating ‘cup of noodle’ 3 meals a day (ironically while watching a marathon of Worst Cooks in America BTW…woops…) I decided it was the time to treat my sweet hubs and myself to some real food courtesy of my own personal chef  slow cooker.

This recipe is a slow cooker hybrid. There is some real cooking involved beforehand, but it is so worth it. I chose this recipe because it made sense. It did things that you just knew would make for a hearty sauce, vibrant flavors, and not a film of grease on top (as I hear a lot of meatball slow cooker recipes leave you with in the end). I highly recommend this recipe, it made SOOO many meatballs, there was hardly room in the pot. We may make some meatball subs in the near future as well. Enjoy!


slow cooker meatballs and marinara
courtesy of Cook’s Country

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped fine
2/3 cup tomato paste
8 cloves minced garlic*
1 tablespoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ cup red wine
2 28 ounce cans crushed tomatoes
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ pound Italian sausage, casings removed
2 large eggs
pounds 85 percent lean ground beef
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
spaghetti/pasta, cooked to serve with the meatballs

*while sick and watching Worst Cooks in America, I was inspired to start crushing and chopping fresh garlic to cook with. The crushing 1was the most exciting new step because I had never done it before. Just place a broad cutting knife on top of the garlic clove and gently press down with the heel of your hand on the flat surface of the blade. Easy and not scary at all (as I had feared it would be). Try it out!

  •  COOK AROMATICS Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions, tomato paste, 6 garlic cloves, oregano, pepper flakes, and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook until golden, about 8 minutes.
  • MAKE SAUCE Transfer half of onion mixture to large bowl; set aside. Add wine to pot with remaining onion mixture and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, then transfer to slow cooker.
  •  FORM MEATBALLS Add ½ cup Parmesan, mozzarella, sausage, eggs, ¾ teaspoon salt, and remaining garlic to bowl with reserved onion mixture. Mash with potato masher until smooth. Add beef and cream to bowl and knead with hands until well combined. Form mixture into twelve 2-inch meatballs.
  • COOK MEATBALLS Microwave meatballs on large plate until fat renders and meatballs are firm, 4 to 7 minutes. Nestle meatballs in slow cooker, discarding rendered fat. Cover and cook on low until meatballs are tender and sauce is slightly thickened, 4 to 5 hours. Skim fat. Stir in basil and remaining Parmesan. Season with salt. Serve over pasta.

MAKE AHEAD Raw meatballs and sauce can be refrigerated separately up to 24 hours in advance. When ready to cook, add sauce to slow cooker and microwave meatballs before adding them to the slow cooker. Continue with recipe as directed.


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