Baked Italian Meat-a-balls

Meat-a-balls? You know, like Tony in Lady and the Tramp, “Hey, Joe! Butch-a, he say he wants-a two spaghetti speciale, heavy on the meat-a-ball” Isn’t puppy love sweet?

Maybe you’re looking to impress a special someone (or potential special someone) and don’t have Tony’s special spaghetti and meatballs to do it for you, or maybe you just want to bring life to the flickering flame that lies between you and your significant other; spaghetti and meatballs, a tall glass of wine and maybe a side of cheese bread and simple salad have long been the romantic meal standby…in July? Yes, I know it’s not February, but people need love even in July. You can eat spaghetti and meatballs in a t-shirt and shorts just as easily as you can in a sweater and jeans.

After I searched through many, many recipes and thought long and hard about what I wanted out of a meatball, I settled on this. A meatball that would sit on top of spaghetti, all covered with cheese. Come on, everybody, “I lost my poor meatball, when somebody sneezed.”

And this. I didn’t have any of this, so I had Ole pick some up on his way home. It took him longer than I would have liked, so I started without him.

And you mix it all together. Feel free to use your (recently washed) hands for this.

And then scoop the meatballs into your palm for a good roll. Again, I used a medium-sized scoop for this. It’s my go-to scoop of choice.

In my wanderings, I came across Alton Brown’s meatball recipe and remembered the episode of Good Eats. Seeing as how I love Good Eats and will listen to anything Alton says, I kept a few things from his recipe. First, I rolled the meatballs in bread crumbs before baking.

And the other thing I did was to bake them in mini muffin tins. The tins help suspend the meatballs slightly over the grease, and you end with a leaner, meaner meatball. They also hold their shape well, so a perfectly rounded meatball will be yours, one perfect for rolling, and not one with a flat bottom.

Hello, my little meatballs. I’m so glad you’ve joined us for dinner tonight.

The pesto cheese bread is on the plate, the meatballs are in place.

It’s time to dig in, young and old. (Kumquat is, at this very moment, hovering over my shoulder asking if we can have meatballs for dinner. She also claims to be the owner of the fork in this picture.)

With that, Tony will take us out. This is the night, people: bella notte.

Baked Italian Meat-a-balls
2 pounds ground beef
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, minced (or pulverized through a press)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (adjust if you don’t appreciate the spice)
1/3 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs (to roll them in)

Preheat oven to 350º. Beat egg lightly. Mix all ingredients, reserving the last 1/2 cup of bread crumbs in a large bowl. Using a scoop or a spoon, divide out equal portions of the meat mix and roll into balls. Roll into the reserved 1/2 cup bread crumbs and place into greased mini muffing tins. Bake at 350º for 25 to 30 minutes until bread crumbs begin to brown and meatballs are cooked through.

Serve atop a pile of spaghetti and sauce with a side of garlic toast or cheese bread. Provide plenty of napkins.

Makes 28-32 meatballs or 7-8 four-meatball servings.


  1. Looks so delicious… especially that bread! Mmmm… 😀

  2. We did like that aswell, purchasing beef whole from the local farmer. I like to support him, even if it is a more expesnive than the shop, because I know exactly how and where it is made, I know I’m not contributing to global warming or something. This meat recipe is great, I found.


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