I'm a strong believer that meatballs are more than an appetizer and can turn any weeknight dinner up a notch without spending endless hours in the kitchen. We love these Italian style pork meatballs because the spices and seasonings are the same that are added to a traditional Italian ground sausage and makes them full of flavor! With fennel seed, onion, garlic, paprika and lots of herbs, this versatile ground sausage mixture is consistently found throughout Italy and has become what we view as the Classic Italian Sausage Mixture.
This recipe is actually very simple with all you are really doing is mixing the ground meat with additional flavorings and then binding it all together with the addition of egg yolks. Not so difficult when you approach it with that logic right? Since this recipe is essentially a way of flavoring ground pork, you can really use whichever type of meat you prefer. Don’t eat pork? Try it with ground beef. Don’t eat red meat? Ground chicken or turkey work well too.
Ways to Use this Italian Pork Meatball Recipe
One of the best things about this recipe is the various ways you can use it in forms other than just meatballs. Learning this technique and using all of the flavor is something you can absolutely master now and then explore other ways to use. Here are a few examples of ways you can use the pork mixture:
Italian Pork Burger
The Filling for Porchetta
Biscuits & Sausage Gravy
Sausage, Bean and Kale Soup
Ingredients for the Best Italian Style Meatballs
This recipe doesn't require a lot of ingredients but what it does require is lot of spices and herbs. Luckily, some of these I guarantee you already have in your spice cabinet and the others are easy to find at your local grocery store. Here's what you need:
Dried Spices: For the dried spices, I always like to have paprika and red pepper flakes for some spice, and of course, fennel and coriander seed because to me, those are the two unsung heroes in Italian Sausage. Most of the time you probably don’t even know they are there but I promise you, if you take them out, you will be able to tell.
Herbs: I like to use a mixture of both dried and fresh herbs because of the depth of flavor that both bring. There are certainly times when I use all fresh herbs but I rarely use all dried herbs. I always like to have at least one herb present in it’s fresh form whether it is basil, oregano or parsley. I find that when only using dried herbs the sausage mixture as a hole seems to lack brightness and freshness in its taste. To substitute dried herbs for fresh ones simply double the amount listed in the recipe and do the opposite if using dried instead of fresh.
Egg Yolks: I use egg yolks in this recipe to bind the ground pork together and to keep it from separating and becoming grainy when cooking.
Vinegar: The vinegar is important because it helps cut through the richness of the meatballs and provides balance to the flavors.
Tips for Making Meatballs
Using ground pork: Keep in mind that while this recipe can certainly be made from larger cuts of pork which are first marinated and then ground, we used already ground pork because we don't have a grinder at home and odds are you, you don't either! If you do happen to own a grinder and want to grind it yourself, simply marinate the large cuts of pork overnight with all the ingredients except the egg yolks. Grind the pork the following day and then mix in the egg yolks until they are thoroughly combined.
Using a tray with edges: When baking the meatballs, make sure you bake them on a pan or tray with raised edges because the meatballs will render off some fat that could drip off the tray and into the oven.
Keeping the mixture cold: Make sure to keep the ground pork mixture cold throughout the entirety of time that you are preparing the meatballs. If the pork starts to become warm, the fat will begin to melt out of the pork and that could lead to you having a dry and grainy meatball, which we don't want!
Made extra? Freeze the mixture: You can also always make a few extra meatballs to keep in your freezer because they hold up amazingly in the freezer. When freezing in bulk, simply wrap the pork mixture tightly with plastic wrap without forming into meatballs first. Then, once you have thawed it after freezing, you can shape the meatballs and cook them accordingly.
Ready to level up your weeknight dinners? These Italian style pork meatballs are it!
Cheers and eat well!
Italian Style Pork Meatballs
These Italian Style Pork Meatballs are the perfect quick and easy dinner option. Whether you are serving them in a pasta, as a component to a composed bowl or salad, or even by themselves, these meatballs are guaranteed to bring spice and flavor.
Prepare your vegetable and herbs by peeling/mincing/chopping the onion, garlic and parsley.
Add the ground pork to a large bowl and add all other ingredients except the four egg yolks, the fennel seed, the coriander seed, and the red wine vinegar. Mix with a wooden spoon until the ingredients are combined and evenly distributed.
Once the ingredients are combined, add the red wine vinegar and mix to distribute.
Add the egg yolks, one by one, and mix only long enough to combine.
Add the fennel and coriander seed and mix to distribute evenly throughout the pork mixture.
Once combined, check the seasoning by cooking off a small amount of the mixture and trying it. Adjust the seasoning to your liking.
Preheat your oven to 350 F.
Portion and shape your meatballs by dividing the pork mixture into approximately 40 1-ounce portions and rolling them in the palms of your hands in a circular motion. Once rolled, place them onto a sheet tray or baking tray that has been sprayed or oiled.
When the oven has come to temp, bake the meatballs at 350 F for 12-15 minutes or until they reach an internal temperature of 160 F. Serve with your favorite sauce/accompaniments.
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