Recently, while I was making fresh tomato sauce, I had the urge to make meatballs to go with the sauce. I had bought some ground beef and pork – intending to make meatloaf – so I turned it into meatballs, using ingredients I had on hand. Luckily, I had some Parmigiano, which I think is a flavor essential. But while some meatball recipes call for fresh ricotta – and some use water or milk – to pair with the breadcrumbs and moisten the mixture, I used half ‘n half (combined with two eggs) to both bind and moisten the meatballs. But if you wanted to use ricotta cheese instead of the half ‘n half, I think you certainly could. I’d use an equal amount of ricotta with a couple tablespoons of water or milk.

I experimented with both pan-frying and roasting the meatballs. I much prefer pan-frying for the nice browning it gives. You can then finish cooking the meatballs in your simmering sauce. Roasting is a good option if you want to cook the meatballs all the way through. They’ll be done in about 20 to 25 minutes in a 400-degree oven. 

Susie Middleton

You can also make the meatballs ahead and freeze them (uncooked), well-wrapped, for a few weeks.

Makes 16 to 18 meatballs, serves 4

  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup half ‘n’ half
  • ¾ pound ground beef
  • ¾ pound ground pork
  • 1 cup coarsely grated Parmigiano Regianno
  • 1 1/2 cups coarse fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley and mint (any combination)
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Fresh pepper
  • Vegetable or olive oil for frying or roasting


For serving:


1. Whisk together the eggs and half ‘n’ half. Set aside.

2. Put the ground beef and pork into a large mixing bowl.

3. Add the Parmigiano, the breadcrumbs, the herbs, the garlic, the salt, the Worcestershire, and 10 to 12 grinds of fresh pepper.

4. Toss the mixture together with your hands, breaking up the meat and distributing the rest of the ingredients until they are mostly evenly mixed in (don’t mash). Drizzle the egg-cream mixture over all and mix gently with your hands until the mixture is well-combined. It will feel a bit wet.

5. Cover loosely with plastic and let the mixture sit for 15 minutes. 

6. Shape into 16 to 18 two-inch meatballs. (Each one will weigh about 2 ounces.)

7. If making ahead, wrap the meatballs well in plastic and freeze or refrigerate. If eating right away, bring your tomato sauce to a gentle simmer.

8. Heat a few teaspoons of oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add four meatballs to the pan and cook without disturbing for 3 to 4 minutes, or until nicely browned. Gently turn over with a silicone spatula and brown on another side for 3 to 4 minutes.

9. Transfer the meatballs to the tomato sauce and wipe the skillet. Repeat with remaining meatballs. When all the meatballs are in the sauce, simmer gently for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the interior of a meatball reaches 160 degrees F. Serve over pasta, garnished with additional Parmigiano if desired.