Recipe: Veal Meatballs in Red Wine Sauce

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When it comes to pairing wine with food, I don’t know that there’s a pair I like much better than a big plate of pasta with red wine sauce and tender, aromatic homemade meatballs — paired with a bold and delicious Chianti, of course. It’s a classic setup, a staple of Italian-American restaurants, and comfort food extraordinaire. Here’s the recipe for the meatballs I cook when I want to make certain members of my family extra, extra happy — and a tangy tomato and red wine sauce too.

So, a word about veal. Have you ever eaten a meatball at a restaurant and thought to yourself, “Gee, I wonder they got that meatball so tender and soft?” The answer is almost certainly veal. I always use a mix of veal, pork, and beef in my meatballs, as I feel this produces a really terrific flavor and texture. I understand that many cooks don’t prefer to use veal, however, and in that case, I would recommend using ground chicken instead.


For the meatballs:

  • 3/4 cupwhole milk
  • 1/2 cupfine dried breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 poundground pork
  • 1/2 poundground beef, such as ground chuck
  • 1/2 poundground veal
  • 1 teaspoonchunky kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoonsmoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspooncayenne
  • 1/4 cupfinely chopped Italian parsley
  • About 2 tablespoons finely chopped the fresh sage, from 1 small herb bunch
  • 3/4 cupfinely diced or grated yellow onion, from about 1 small yellow onion
  • 2large garlic cloves, finely minced or grated
  • 1/3 cupgrated Parmesan cheese
  • 2large eggs, beaten

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