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22 responses to “Perfect Italian Meatballs”

  1. Heather

    Call me crazy, but I always use the coarse grind, and my meatballs stay together just fine. I deviate again by baking my meatballs because I hate cleaning aerisolized grease from every nook and cranny of my kitchen (spatter screens never work). Also, a 1/4 cup-sized ice cream scoop works pretty great for forming the balls. A little neater, a little less worked, and perfectly consistent. That’s my $0.02.

    I hanker for some duck meatballs. Those, I can’t just go to the store for. I guess I could pick up some cheap duck from the Chinese market. Hmmm.

  2. Holly Heyser

    Heather, in the Hunter Angler Gardener Cook household, we consider aerosolized grease a home decor accent. And as long as I don’t get fat or develop high cholesterol, I’ll embrace it – because it means the food is SO GOOD!

  3. Jennifer Iannolo

    Bless your heart for going the stale bread route. I’ve always done it with water and not milk (Gramma Crucitti was Old-World on that, where milk was a little too precious). I’ve never coated with breadcrumbs before frying, however.

    Also, my grandmother brought over her meatball recipe from Calabria, so can you point me to where you learned that was an American creation?

  4. deana@lostpastremembered

    It is wonderful that even for the muddy duck there is a purpose on the platter… good for you. Using pork fat is a great idea if the bird’s fat isn’t sufficient or ill-flavored.
    Informative post. Waste not , want not and get great meatbballs!!!

  5. islandexile

    Great food! We like Marcella’s sausage with cabbage and her chicken with cabbage – delicious.
    Belated compliments on the new site design. It’s bold & clear, befitting the subject! And I really like the access to the recipes.

  6. Tovar Cerulli

    Thanks, Hank.

    Part-Italian though I am (and full-Italian though my wife is), I’m really looking forward to trying that Greek Venison Meatball recipe, too. There are pounds and pounds of venison in the freezer, just waiting for such fine treatment.

  7. Russell Kofoed

    This sounds good. I have some goose legs I need to use. This’ll be a great use for them. Unless we are really planning on roasting a whole goose, we breast them and save the legs for pot pie and such.

  8. matt

    LOVE the attention to detail here. that is really what sets your blog and cooking apart from the rest out there.

    Totally agree about lean meatballs sucking, and those “100% meat” ones too. I agree there needs to be some bread in there.

    I am rather addicted to the meatballs from the A16 cookbook of late – course no duck in there though

  9. Russell Kofoed

    Made these tonight with some Canada goose legs we had in the freezer and trimmings from a pork roast we had. They were great. I baked them in tomato sauce instead of frying and they turned out fine. Great recipe! Thanks.

  10. adele

    I need to stop reading food blogs before lunch. Now I want spaghetti and meatballs, and I can’t hoof it to Boston’s North End and back to campus in time for my afternoon class.

    I could, however, go to my butcher in the North End when class is over, and make meatballs for dinner… Hmm.

  11. Carmelita

    With you on the fine grind for good mouth feel and cohesiveness.

    Of the other “texture softeners” used in Italy for meatballs (butter, mashed potato, dampened bread) my favourite is ricotta.

    And another trick I have, taught me by a cooking class student from Singapore, is to pick up and throw down the meatball mixture over and over – lightens the texture he said, and I believe it does, or even if it doesn’t, it’s a lot of fun!

  12. Carmelita

    Oh and PS, I have the original – I believe – Italian spaghetti (alla chitarra) with meatballs recipe up on Pasta Channel here

  13. Cork Graham

    Hank —

    Looks like I’ll have to go after some more hard-to-ever-do-right ruddy ducks in the SF Bay next year to try this recipe.

    As we’re grinding meats that potentially can tear up a blade with shot: what’s your best technique for making sure you birds are shot free?


  14. Duke


    Finally, I have a second option for spoonies. The cheapo spoonie breakfast sausage I make is getting kinda old. Thanks.

  15. Helen

    I wonder if I can connect you to another website They have a different take on meat balls in Frikadelle (meat balls) in tomato, wine and onion sauce. The site is nothing to do with me, except I am a Brit, married to a Kiwi and have SA friends – so blending traditions is useful!

  16. Weekend – odds and ends… » iRiver Rat

    […] Made the best meatballs I’ve ever had – though I owe the recipe to Hank Shaw’s Trash Duck Meatball. […]

  17. Sylvia

    I can’t believe how easy this looks! I’m excited to try it with deer meat.. my husband just got back from hunting and we are loaded up with deer meat. I was looking for some interesting recipes and this definitely fits the mold. YUM!

  18. Dave

    What a fabulous meat ball recipe! I’ll whisper my secret meatball ingredient: Replace half the milk with sour cream trust me you will be amazed.

  19. Domenick Pucillo

    I really enjoyed reading this. Many insightful approaches that add the key elements to a good cuisine. Take a look at my recipes collection on my blog and let me know what you think. Maybe we can exchange some recipes.

  20. Dorinda

    I live in New Orleans and found duck and pork sausage links. I’m going to give it a try for my meatballs with this recipe. I’m sure they will be great. I’ll let you know

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