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Apr 9, 2009 02:54 PM

Light and fluffy meatballs?

My husband and I recently returned from Rome where we had the best meatballs. They were light and fluffy instead of being dense like the ones we get in restaurants here. We were wondering if anyone had any suggestions as to how we might be able to re-create this consistency at home?

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  1. Fresh bread crumbs always (I soak bread in milk and then squeeze), never over mix, eggs, worscestershire, fresh herbs dried oregano and fresh parsley, I love to use turkey or pork and beef not all beef, grated onion not diced, s/p, a little parm and garlic.

    I do both pan fry and bake. Mix lightly form and then I either pan saute or bake. Either way. Best soft great meatballs.

    Want the recipe ... glad to send. I like to make them big and then simmer slow in the sauce and then top with great grated parm and mozz.

    2 Replies
    1. re: kchurchill5

      Thanks, I would like to have recipe.


      1. re: Budgold

        You can easily make this, but I like to use a mix of turkey or veal, pork and beef. But I have easily made this with all turkey and all beef.

        1 1/2 lbs total
        1/4 cup parm
        2 eggs beaten
        3-4 tablespoons grated onion
        2 slices of bread soaked in milk and squeezed (I prefer just white or a light wheat)
        3-4 teaspoons of minced garlic
        1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped
        1 teaspoon worcestershire
        1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
        s/p to taste
        Pan saute in olive oil or you can bake on parchment paper as well in a 400 degree oven.

        The secret to me is I mix everything except the meat to get it all combined, then I add the meat and combine. DO NOT over mix, that tends to make the meatballs dense and tough.

        Also, as karl mentioned before he uses buttermilk. I have used it but too heavy for me. However I have used it when I was out of milk they turned out fine.

        I form mine into golf ball size usually but it all depends on what you are using them for.


    2. 1. Panade of buttermilk and finely torn white bread

      2. Egg yolks only, no whites.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Karl S

        buttermilk to heavy for me and white needed for my taste. But I'm sure there will be a hundred different variations.

        1. re: Karl S

          italians do not use buttermilk -- that is strictly an american thing. depending on the region, many italians wouldn't use milk at all -- my family is one of those.

          a mix of ground beef/veal/pork is quite common and will definitely make a lighter style meatball than all beef. i mix chopped parsley, freshly grated cheese and an egg in a bowl. add salt and pepper. grind up stale bread in the food processor -- enough to make about a cup. (i keep bread heels in the freezer for this.) stir into the egg mix. add in the meat and mix everything with your hands. mix it until just blended. if you overhandle it makes them tough. i make them about golf ball size, or make really tiny marble-sized ones for lasagne.

          they can be made a few hours ahead, or even overnight. i think the flavors blend and the meat sets up more nicely this way. you can then fry in a pan or bake in the oven. this gets a nice crisp on the outside for concentrated flavor and great texture against soft pasta.

          1. re: hotoynoodle

            We now use "meatloaf mix" (ground beef/veal/pork), but I grew up with straight up ground beef, which is tasty, too. My mom taught me to soak a piece of toast in water for the breadcrumb component. Agree that overhandling makes 'em tough. We include garlic powder in ours and bake in a pan with a layer of water around the meatballs. Always soft and delicious.

            1. re: hotoynoodle

              I understand that Italians wouldn't themselves use it, but it helps with the lightness, perhaps counterintuitively. Our other ingredients (even our ground meat) will differ in quality from what Italians have available. The real Italian way is not to try to imitate what they have over there as such, but do the best with what we actually have at hand.

              1. re: Karl S

                i'm not doubting your deliciousness. :) the acidity of the buttermilk probably has a tenderizing effect on the meats. so, that's cool.

                my grandfather was born over there, but came here as a kid. he made meatballs the way i now do. no doubt the meat is very different from what he bought back then too, but they come out fine by me and mine.

          2. Pork and veal mix, a panade of fresh bread crumbs, milk and an egg yolk, plus a light hand in forming them.

            1. No bread crumbs at all. Use day old bread (or English muffins are really good for this), soak in water first and squeeze out, then pour some heavy cream over and smash up. If you want to add any bread crumbs at all, a small handful of Japanese will still keep it soft. I don't know any Italian cooks that use plain ol' breadcrumbs, they're way too heavy.

              1. Can some of you Italians help me out here? I was under the impression that "meatballs" were a strictly Italian-American concoction, not to be found in Italy. Is that not the case? As for light and fluffy, one big factor is not to work the meat too much. Don't squeeze it any more than you need to to form the ball.

                2 Replies
                1. re: bnemes3343

                  people have been making meatballs all over the world since forever. minced meat was used until grinders were invented in the mid 1800s.

                  spaghetti and meatballs was concocted to please americans. and the giant sized ones are definitely an american thing. maybe that's what you're thinking? traditionally, italians ate the pasta, then a meat course.

                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    Yup, I was really referring specifically to "Spaghetti and Meatballs" which I had always been told was an Italian-American concoction. I have been to Italy several times and I don't recall every seeing this. But certainly pasta with meat (e.g. Bolognese sauce) I would expect.