Anne Burrell's Meatball Recipe

Meatballs are classic comfort food — whether you're enjoying them as an appetizer with some crusty bread or atop fresh spaghetti — and Anne Burrell's "Excellent Meatballs" recipe is, in fact, excellent. But if you want something with a bit more heat, this recipe from food photographer and recipe developer Cecilia Ryu is exactly what you're looking for. Ryu gives Burrell's meatball recipe a spicy kick by increasing the amount of crushed red pepper flakes in the meatballs and adding some heat to the marinara sauce.

This isn't a particularly difficult recipe to master at home, but it's not a quick weeknight dinner, either. Unless you happen to have pancetta and ground veal on hand, you'll need to take a trip to grocery store, and you'll need around three hours to make the meatballs and the marinara sauce. But trust us on this one — these meatballs are definitely worth the time and effort. Now, let's get started!

Gather the ingredients to prepare Anne Burrell's meatball recipe with a twist

In order to get cooking, you'll need to gather extra-virgin olive oil, an onion, two Spanish onions, garlic, salt, crushed red pepper, and Italian parsley. You definitely can't make meatballs without the star of the show — meat — so you'll also need ground beef, ground pork, ground veal, and diced pancetta. To prevent the meatballs from falling apart, you'll need two large eggs and some breadcrumbs. When it comes to cheese, you'll need the above mentioned grated Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino Romano cheese. You'll also need canned San Marzano tomatoes. While there are definitely cheaper brands of canned tomatoes, Ryu says that San Marzano tomatoes are worth it. "Without a doubt, there is a difference when using San Marzano tomatoes," says Ryu. "I would highly recommend using it rather than regular canned tomatoes."

And last but not least, you'll need Calabrian chili paste. Calabrian chili paste may sound a little exotic if you've never used it before, but according to Ryu, it's easy to find. "Calabrian chili paste can be found in most supermarkets in the condiment section," says Ryu. "The one I used is from Trader Joe's."

Cook the onions, and start making the meatballs

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a sauté pan, and add the onions. Season with salt, and cook until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook for another two minutes. Remove the pan from the stove, and set it aside to cool.

Mix the ground beef, veal, pork, eggs, Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, eggs, and breadcrumbs together in a bowl. Use your hands to get all ingredients to combine evenly. Add the onion mixture from the pan and ½ cup of water. Season with salt. In order to check the level of saltiness, cook a tablespoon of the meatball mixture in a pan.

Cook the meatballs

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Shape the meatball mixture into meatballs. This recipe should yield roughly 18 to 20 meatballs. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat, and brown the meatballs on all sides. Transfer the meatballs onto a baking sheet, and bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until cooked through. (You can check the meatball's internal temperature with an instant read thermometer.)

Ryu says that you can change the shape and size of the meatballs, but be aware of the fact that doing so will change the amount of time needed in the oven. "Smaller would mean less time and larger would mean more time," Ryu says. "I made these the same size as [Burrell] suggested (slightly larger than a golf ball) and had 20 meatballs. It required about 12 minutes in the oven."

Make the marinara sauce

Now it's time to turn your attention to the marinara sauce. Pour the canned tomatoes into a large bowl, and crush them with your hands. Discard any hard stems. Burrell's recipe says to use a food mill, but Ryu says that your hands, a potato masher, or the back of a slotted spoon work just fine. "I don't think many people have a food mill. As much as I cook, I don't even own one," Ryu says. "So I changed that step to crush the tomatoes with your hands. The taste is the same, just a tiny bit chunky."

Add ¼ cup of olive oil to a large sauce pan, and cook over medium heat. Add the pancetta to the pan, and cook for four to five minutes. Add the Spanish onions, and cook until soft and translucent, or about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and the Calabrian chili paste, and cook for another two minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, rinse out one of the empty tomato cans, and add the water to the pot. Season with salt, and cook the sauce for two to three hours, stirring occasionally and checking for seasoning.

Heat and serve the meatballs

Once the marinara sauce has been simmered to perfection, add the meatballs, and cook until heated through. Serve the meatballs hot, with extra Parmigiano Reggiano on the side. While there is no wrong way to eat a meatball, Ryu does have a few serving suggestions. "Serving suggestions would definitely be over spaghetti, because nothing is as classic as spaghetti and meatballs," she says. "If not, you can serve the meatballs as an appetizer with the sauce." Both ideas sound delicious to us!

What did we change?

With this delicious twist, you may have noticed Ryu increased the heat level in Burrell's original meatball recipe from a pinch to 1 ½ teaspoons. She also added Calabrian chili paste to the marinara sauce. "You can definitely add more or less than I suggested depending on how spicy to want it," Ryu says. In addition, she chose to use a mixture of Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino Romano — as opposed to Burrell's recipe which just uses Parmigiano Reggiano cheese — in order to give the meatballs a greater depth of flavor.

Anne Burrell's Meatball Recipe
4.9 from 13 ratings
This twist on Anne Burrell's meatball recipe offers a spicy kick in the meatballs and the marinara sauce.
Prep Time
12
minutes
Cook Time
2.75
hours
Servings
18
Meatballs
plated meatballs
Total time: 2.95 hours
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup + 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, ¼-inch dice
  • salt, to taste
  • 6 cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped
  • 1 ½ teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • ½ pound ground beef
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • ½ pound ground veal
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • ½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup water
  • 4 (28-ounce) cans Italian plum San Marzano tomatoes
  • ¼ pound diced pancetta
  • 2 large Spanish onions, ¼-inch dice
  • 1 ½ tablespoons Calabrian chili paste
Directions
  1. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil. Add the onions, and season with salt. Cook for approximately 5 to 7 minutes until very soft and translucent. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and sauté for another 1 to 2 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Mix the ground beef, ground pork, ground veal, eggs, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Pecorino Romano cheese, parsley, and breadcrumbs together in a large mixing bowl. Using your hands, mix well to evenly combine all ingredients. Add the onion mixture and water. Season with salt, and mix again.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  4. Shape the meatball mixture into 18 to 20 balls.
  5. In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the meatballs on all sides.
  6. Place the meatballs on a baking sheet, and finish cooking in the preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until cooked through. Set aside.
  7. Pour the canned tomatoes into a large bowl. Crush the tomatoes with your hands, and discard any hard stems.
  8. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add ¼ cup of extra-virgin olive oil. Add the pancetta, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the Spanish onions, and season with salt. Stir well. Cook the onions until they are very soft and translucent, approximately 10 minutes. Add the garlic and Calabrian chili paste, and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, and rinse out 1 of the empty tomato cans with water, and also add to the saucepan. Season with salt.
  9. Cook the sauce for 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally and checking for seasoning.
  10. Once the sauce is finished cooking, add the meatballs. Cook until the meatballs are heated through.
  11. Serve while hot with extra Parmigiano Reggiano cheese on the side.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 275
Total Fat 18.6 g
Saturated Fat 5.9 g
Trans Fat 0.2 g
Cholesterol 55.6 mg
Total Carbohydrates 14.4 g
Dietary Fiber 2.9 g
Total Sugars 6.3 g
Sodium 652.5 mg
Protein 13.5 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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