Recipe: Rao’s Famous Meatballs


Culture Cheatsheet gets the beloved New York eatery to share its secret recipe.

This article, written by , appears on Culture Cheatsheet.

Best Meatballs Ever: The Only Meatball Recipe You’ll Ever Need

Nothing says Italian food like a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs, at least if you’re talking to most Americans. Little globs of meat coated in marinara sauce and served on top of a bed of pasta conjures up images of doting nonnas and restaurants with red-checked tablecloths. But what you might not realize is spaghetti and meatballs is distinctly an American dish.

When Italian immigrants settled in the U.S., they adapted their culinary traditions for their new environment, Smithsonian.com explained. Meat was cheaper, so meatballs became meatier (originally they were made with more breadcrumbs) and canned tomatoes and pasta took center stage since those were the ingredients available to home cooks. Thus, an enduring Italian-American dish was born.

Meatballs might be commonplace these days, but not all of them are good ones. The best meatballs are tender, flavorful, and perfectly browned, but too often home cooks turn out dense, tough, and generally disappointing meatballs. What’s going wrong with this deceptively simple dish? Everything from overworking the meat to not using enough seasoning to skimping on the breadcrumbs can produce an inferior meatball.

Of course, the best meatballs also start with a solid meatball recipe. The following version is a tried-and-true classic from an old-school Italian restaurant in New York. It calls for three different meats as well as a generous amount of Pecorino Romano cheese. Follow it and you’ll be rewarded with some of the best meatballs you’ve ever tasted. Get Rao’s meatball recipe at Culture Cheatsheet…

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