Really Good Meatballs

Who needs the spaghetti? This mixture of veal, pork, beef, pine nuts and grated Parmesan takes meatballs to the next level

This mixture of veal, pork, beef, pine nuts and grated Parmesan takes meatballs to the next level

Meatballs used to be rather ho-hum in my mind, just something to tide you over when visiting giant furniture stores. My mixture of veal, pork and beef truly takes them to the next level. Pine nuts and grated Parmesan elevate them that much more. Who needs the spaghetti? These can either be pan fried or baked; whichever you prefer.



  • 4 slices white bread
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large shallots, finely minced
  • 2 large free-range eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 heaping tbsp Dijon mustard
  • ¾ lb ground pork
  • ¾ lb ground veal
  • ¾ lb lean ground beef
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp chili paste
  • 1? cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil
  • ½ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • 1 jar (12 oz) good-quality tomato sauce (I like Lidia’s Tomato Basil Sauce or Rao’s Vodka Sauce)
  • Splash of vodka (optional)



  1. If baking the meatballs, preheat your oven to 375°F.
  2. Soak the bread in a shallow bowl of water for about 20 minutes. Squeeze it dry and chop it fine. Discard the water. 
  3. While the bread is soaking, place the garlic, shallots, beaten eggs, and mustard in a large bowl. Add the meats, Worcestershire, chili paste, ½ cup of the Parmesan, the basil, parsley, pine nuts and chopped soaked bread. Mix well, ensuring all ingredients are well-combined. Using a portion scoop or soup spoon, roll the mixture into balls. Size is personal.
  4. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, pan fry the meatballs until well-browned on all sides, about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on size. (If baking, place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until browned, turning halfway through to ensure even browning.)
  5. In the same pan, heat the sauce until simmering; stir in a splash of vodka for that optional extra. Ladle the sauce into an ovenproof serving dish, place the browned meatballs on top, garnish with remaining Parmesan, and put under the broiler until the cheese bubbles, about 1 minute. This pairs perfectly with rustic country bread for dipping and sopping. Spaghetti is optional.

Makes 50 medium-sized meatballs

Recipe courtesy of Penguin Random House from Caren McSherry’s brand new book, Starters, Salads and Sexy Sides.