September 29, 2009

Meatballs for Choir Boys

Growing up in Cooperstown my family ate at community suppers with the same regularity we did restaurants. Hardly a month passed when my mother wasn’t whipping up a batch of these homemade meatballs to cart off to the Church, Girl Scouts or Lions Club. Sometimes she would ask the organizer if she could bring a beverage or dessert, but the answer was always no. People wanted their meatballs.

It turns out that she shouldn’t have been surprised by their popularity. These meatballs had already achieved community supper-fame many years before when my paternal grandmother made them for my father’s children’s choir dinners. In fact, they were so popular that she wrote down the recipe and named it in honor of the choir boys who so happily devoured them.

Over time I have discovered that meatballs are incredibly handy in the kitchen. They freeze beautifully, guaranteeing that a tasty meal is always at my fingertips no matter how hectic my day. And, when I need to make them in bulk for a community supper – like my mother and grandmother before me – I simply double or triple the recipe. I’ll admit, there are many occasions when people tell me they don’t see the point in making homemade meatballs since perfectly good ones can be purchased at the market. As a fellow parent I completely understand the need for convenience, but making a large batch of these meatballs to keep in your freezer is twice as delicious and efficient as anything you will find at a store.

One of the keys to making these meatballs is to start with good ingredients. I always buy meats with a high ratio of fat. This keeps the meatballs moist and tender, and prevents them from having any sort of golfball-like texture or flavor. Once all the ingredients are gathered, making the meatballs while my daughter naps is a cinch. I simply place them in a large glass bowl and mix with clean hands until everything is evenly incorporated. Then I form the mixture into 1-inch balls, making sure they are molded firmly enough to stay together when they are seared in the pan.

Come dinner time I serve them piled high on top of a big plate of piping hot spaghetti. Suffice it to say, when they hit the table – whether it be at a family gathering or community supper – there is instant silence as everyone ceases conversation and begins eating.


Meatballs for Choir Boys

an original recipe adapted from my paternal grandmother


1/3 lb. ground beef
1/3 lb. ground pork
1/3 lb. ground veal
2 slices of white bread soaked in 1/3 c. milk
½ c. parmesan cheese, grated
1 t. salt
½ t. oregano
¼ t. black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T. parsley, finely chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Makes about 24-28 meatballs


1. Place all of the ingredients above in a large glass bowl and mix well with clean hands.
2. Once everything is combined form small meatballs, about 1-inch in diameter.
3. In a skillet over medium heat, brown the meatballs until they are totally seared to keep the juices in. FREEZING: If you want to freeze meatballs, at this point remove them from the pan and place them in a tightly sealed freezer bag. To thaw, remove from freezer and cook in tomato sauce per instructions below.
4. Then put the meatballs in a pot of spaghetti sauce and cook for 1 hour.

Naptime Notes

Naptime Recipe Serving ideas

Meatballs are one of the best things to have in your freezer at all times. They freeze and defrost beautifully, and both adults and children alike love them.

Naptime Stopwatch

Making meatballs does not take long. I usually make them during naptime (about 10 minutes) and then put them in the fridge until dinner. Then I brown the meatballs and put them in the sauce to cook through.

Naptime Reviews

I’ve tried many meatball recipes but always come back to these. They are nicely flavored with the meats, spices and garlic. My daughter and husband alike adore these, which always makes for an enjoyable family meal.