Sicilian Family Favorites

January 25, 2012

Mixing the meatballs collage blog
The week before Christmas, my Uncle Tony came to visit and we spent a good amount of time in the kitchen making one of our family favorites..... Sauce with Meatballs.

Together, my uncle and I are working on a new project that I am excited about.....
We are hoping to write and publish a cookbook of all the Sicilian recipes that have been in our family for years. These recipes have been passed down from generation to generation, but they have never been compiled and written out. The way I learned to cook was by spending time in the kitchen with my Mom and my Grandma. I would watch everything they did.....and there were two things that struck me....they did not measure anything and they were not following a written recipe. They learned in the same manner that I was....watching and memorizing.

In our family, the focus of all gatherings and special events is always the food. The heart of our homes, lives in the kitchen. It is the way we grew is the Sicilian way, and it is tradition. We all want our children and grandchildren to grow up with the same traditions. We want them to learn the same recipes that we did and know all the stories that go with them, so that is really why this book has become something that my Uncle feels so passionate about.

He has more knowledge of the recipes than I do, and as you could probably guess, most of my responsibilities will be on the photography side of things.

Ingredients collage
We hope to share with everyone the recipes the way my grandparents made them, then we will explain some of the shortcuts or tweaks we have made over the years and maybe even list some of our favorite ingredients and store brands. We also want to tell some of the family stories we hold very close to our hearts.

Adding Tomatoes BLOG
I had mentioned the other day that Nick is already showing signs that his Sicilian roots run deep as he is the newest "foodie" in the house. He was right there next to Uncle Tony every step of the way as we prepared our pot of sauce with meatballs. I know Uncle Tony was just as proud as I was to see him so interested in everything we were doing. He was also the first one to offer to taste test:)

Sauce Collage
There are a few little things that we may do differently than most when it comes to our meatball recipe. One is the type of meat we use. We actually use three; beef, pork, and veal. The other is that we do not fry or bake our meatballs, we cook them right in the pot of sauce. Trust me, you will never have a meatball that is more tender than these. They melt in your mouth..... you will think you have died and gone to heaven..... they are THAT GOOD!!!

Olive Oil(Extra Virgin)
4 Cloves of Garlic
1 Cooking Onion
1 6oz Can of Tomato Paste
2 28oz Cans of Crushed Tomatoes
1 28oz Can of Peeled Tomatoes
Pinch of Sugar
2 tsp of Salt(Kosher)
1 tsp of Fresh Ground Black Pepper
12 Basil Leaves

Use enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot. Add chopped onion and cook until translucent. Then add the garlic and stir for about a minute or two, but be careful not to burn it. Next, add the can of tomato paste and combine it with the onion and garlic mixture. Then, add the 2 Cans of Crushed Tomatoes, 1 Can of Peeled Tomatoes, Pinch of Sugar, Salt, Black Pepper, and Basil. Simmer it so that all of the ingredients will marry together. Usually for at least an hour.
Helpful Hint: We usually empty the can of Peeled Whole Tomatoes into a bowl and go through and cut off the ends/remaining stems. We also crush them by hand to get rid of any excess seeds that we don't want to go into the sauce.

1 lb of Ground Beef
1/2 lb of Veal
1/2 lb of Pork
1 Egg
1/2 Cup of Seasoned Bread Crumbs
1/4 Cup of Locatelli Romano Cheese
1 tsp of Salt
1/2 tsp of Pepper
2/3 Cup of Red Sauce

Put the three meats into a large bowl. Add the Egg, Bread Crumbs, Cheese, Salt, Pepper, and 2/3 cup of the hot sauce that is simmering. Mix by hand all the ingredients until combined, but be careful you don't over mix. The consistency should be very light and fluffy. Roll meatballs one at a time and carefully drop them into the pot of sauce to cook. Simmer them stirring occasionally. The longer they cook the better they are. I will leave them on for at least a few hours.

I hope that you will love this classic recipe as much as our family does.
It is one that will surely warm the heart and soul.
There will be more family favorites featured in the coming weeks, so be sure to check back.

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Number 6 and no more counting! said...

wow, what an exciting venture. I can't wait.

Thanks for sharing this awesome story.


Keisha said...

I love this post. Such a sweet time sharing memories in the kitchen! I would soooo purchase a book! And, I can not wait to try this recipe. Thanks for sharing!
And,, hey.. where is the FULL picture of that Sexy new do?!!! lol! ;0) I wanna see!!!

Hannah said...

We cook our meatballs in the sauce too! It really does make a difference. These sound SO amazing... I can't wait to try both recipes...sounds perfect!

Marla said...

Oh yummmmmm. Must put the ingredients for these on my list soon, I think my whole crew would love them. Love that Nick is following in your footsteps!! And put me down for a copy of the cookbook!!

Anonymous said...

I ay try your recipe this weekend! Sounds fabulous!
Cant wait for the cookbook to come out! I totally want one!

Gail said...

I love the traditions of your family and how cool is that about Nick showing an interest too!! I'm inspired and will try these. Love how you use 3 different kinds of meat.
Would buy one of your cookbooks for sure!

Have a great Wednesday.


Leah said...

What a fun project Lisa! My sister and I did this (without the photos) a few years ago for Christmas for my parents and extended family. It was such a fun project, and we literally were crying from laughter so many nights when we would compare our conversations with our parents on what was in a certain recipe, or how much, etc.. as they both cook as you describe. We are getting ready for an updated cookbook and I think this time it may involve lots of pictures!!

Michelle R Photography said...

Wow! That's awesome, Lisa!! I am sure it will be a cookbook filled with fabulous recipes and photography!! I think it is so great that Nick is at home in the kitchen. I never wanted to spend time in the kitchen growing up, but I love that my girls always want to help me. I certainly don't have the knack for food and recipes that you do, but it's a fun, family bonding time that I enjoy. I wish you and your uncle the best of luck compiling years of family traditions!!


Love Letters To China said...

Every word you have written resonates memories of my own childhood. As you know, I grew up very much the same way as you. I have vivid memories of spending time in my grandmother's kitchen watching her along with my mom cook all of the delicious recipes I do today. I am blessed to come from a Sicilian and Neapolitan background. Both of my grandmothers were amazing cooks. I have so many recipes that I hope to one day do the same type of cookbook for my family.

I have to admit, we pre-broil our meatballs before adding them to the gravy (sauce). Might have to try that next time. I agree 100% that the combination of three meats make the best meatballs ever! I think we might need to do some recipe swapping in the future. I bet we cook a lot of the same things. :-)


Mimi said...

Please, please put me down for a cookbook too!
I've come across the idea of cooking the meatballs in the sauce before, but wondered would it work, so now I know for sure it will.
My Mum cooked in this way too, and her food was fabulous. Her only measuring tool, even for baking, was a tablespoon! I often cook in the same way. Her sponge cake was legendary: 5 eggs, 5 tablespoons of sugar and 5 tablespoons of flour! And sandwiched with whipped cream and her own raspberry jam.
Stop, I've just had lunch and I'm getting hungry!

3 Peanuts said...


THANK YOU for sharing. I make my sauce the same way. ANd i often use the same meat combo for my meatballs. BUT I have never cooked the completely in the sauce. It makes perfect sense but it scares me a tiny bit. Is the sauce simmering the whole time? I am going to try your method. I am sure they are heavenly.

And your photos are gorgeous!!!

Paige said...

I will be trying this recipe and have pinned it onto my recipe board!

I for one would love to buy your cookbook, there is nothing like good Italian home cooked food.

sasa98 said...

YUM! I am salivating -- thank you for sharing these recipes! Can't wait for the book -- here's one buyer :)

Patricia said... can I pre-order the cookbook?!?!? *wink*

I LOVE this post & I LOVE that you are doing this!!! THanks for sharing this recipe as I am ALWAYS in search for the perfect meatball & have yet to find it! Will make these for sure the next time!!

The Stuckey's said...

I would love a cookbook when you are finished...What a great way to pass down to those who have never meet the ones that started the traditions.



snekcip said...

Oh my that looks good!! So that's the key to my former boss's FAMOUS meatballs!!! I worked at their family-owned pharmacy about 10yrs ago. Some days he would surprise us and prepare lunch. He is of Sicilian descent and always cooked the most amazing tasting meatballs! We always asked him "the secret" to that spectacular taste and he always chided us and would say "it's my mom OLD WORLD recipe"!! meatballs in the sauce??!! Why that wait until I catch up with him!!! LOL!!! Oh how I loved tasting all the dishes he and his mom prepared on special occasions!!! I really enjoyed listening to his Mom tell stories of growing up in a big Sicilian family!!

Okay, I'm gonna put aside my "soul food" based mind and try this!!

Note to my Mom: "Ahem!Okay...Momma you didn't hear that"!! Now when I start doing the Tarantella dance instead of the Cupid shuffle...worry BIG TIME...because YOU know I can't dance!! HA!!!

Sharon said...

It's times like these that I miss my mom's sauce and meatballs. Gene still eats meat from time to time and lucky for him she made them for him last weekend. The images look mouth watering!

likeschocolate said...

Just reporting back. I made this recipe for thing this morning and it is incredible. It is like taking a trip to Italy. The only thing I didn't like was all the oil on top, so I skimmed it off.

Debbie said...

Spooky! We are planning a trip to Sciliy in the near future....going to try this recipie....cant wait to get some more :-)