November 19, 2014

Meatballs In Tomato Sauce

Recipe: Roxanne McEwan

This recipe comes from chef Mark McEwan’s wife, Roxanne. She learned how to make it from her sister, who learned it from her Italian mother-in-law. The simple sauce is made from a just a few ingredients: San Marzano tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, onion and fresh basil.


Tomato Sauce (Makes 6 1/4 cup)

  • 1 medium Spanish onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4  cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 cans (796 mL each) San Marzano tomatoes
  • Leaves from 1 bunch of fresh basil, divided
  • 1 tsp fresh cracked pepper


  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 3 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1⁄2 cups white bread, crust removed, cubed
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 1⁄2 lb. each ground veal, pork and beef
  • 2 eggs
  • 1⁄2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil, minced
  • 1⁄2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1⁄2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 batch tomato sauce


Yield: Makes 24

Tomato Sauce 

  1. Sweat onion on low heat in oil until translucent. Add garlic and sweat another 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, half the basil, and the pepper, then cover and simmer
 60 minutes.
  2. Pass through food mill fitted with medium disc into clean pot (a food mill won’t over process the tomatoes). Return to simmer, add remaining basil and salt to taste.


  1. Sweat onion in 2 tsp oil until translucent. Stir in garlic and sweat another 2 minutes. Set aside to cool and then chill in fridge.
  2. Meanwhile, place bread in bowl, cover with milk and let stand 5 minutes. In separate large bowl, combine veal, pork, beef and eggs. Using your hands or a paddle, work meat together thoroughly. Add chilled onion mixture. Add Parmigiano, herbs, chili flakes, salt and pepper to meat mixture. Remove bread from milk, squeeze gently, reserving milk. Add bread to meat mixture and work together 2 to 3 minutes. If mixture is dry and sticky, add some reserved milk and mix again.
  3. Remove a 2″-diam. sample of mixture and sear it in 1 tsp oil. Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly. Form 24 2″-diam. meatballs. Bring tomato sauce to a rolling simmer, drop meatballs in sauce and cook until the meatballs have an internal temperature of 170°F, approx. 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Donna Griffith


House & Home March 2015