The meatball is probably one of the things the Italians are best known for... aside from pizza and pasta, of course!

However, contrary to popular belief, it’s not exclusive to Italian cuisine.

Many nations and cultures have laid claim to the humble meatball. In doing so, the meatball has been varied to accommodate different tastes, available ingredients and even religious traditions.

Where did the first meatball come from? No one knows for sure. However, we do have recipes for meatballs from the time of the Romans, dating back to 25AD, therefore in my eyes they are Italian!

Traditionally, in Italy, the meatball is served on its own in a pomodoro sauce (tomato). It’s only when the recipe spread to America that it was introduced to pasta, and spaghetti and meatballs was born. Nowadays, you can find them on top of pizzas and in sandwiches.

At Amici, we go through hundreds of meatballs a week. Each one is individually handmade by our talented chefs using the recipe and technique I am about to show you.

We use minced beef in this recipe. The quality of the beef will show through on the quality of the meatball, so less is not always more.

It is possible to make meatballs from any type of meat – each one will bring a different flavour, which you can add herbs and spices to and create a meatball that suits your pallet, such as a lamb meatball with mint. For a healthier option, and for the vegetarians out there, you can replace the meat with an array of different vegetables and ingredients, like quinoa and mushroom, aubergine and parmesan, cannellini and courgette – the options are endless. Just blend the ingredients together and substitute it for the meat in the recipe.

If you would like this or any of the other recipes we have published, please send an e-mail to and we will forward them to you. Happy cooking!



Meatball Marinara
Ingredients for the meatballs
1kg lean minced beef
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
20g salt
6 eggs
70ml milk
150g breadcrumbs
Ingredients for the sauce
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
2 peppers, roughly chopped
1 white onion, diced
1 chilli, finely chopped
500ml passata
Bunch fresh basil, finely chopped
Method for the meatballs
1) In a suitable container, soak the breadcrumbs and the milk until the breadcrumbs are soft
2) In a large mixing bowl, add the mince, garlic, eggs, salt and a pinch of black pepper
3) This is the fun part – mix all together with your hands, but make sure they’re clean!
4) When everything is nicely mixed together, add the breadcrumbs and milk and mix a little more
5) Now you need to make them into balls – usually they are the size of a golf ball, but you can make them as big or as small as you like
6) Get a separate bowl of warm water and keep your hands wet – this will stop the mixture from sticking to your hands when making the balls
7) Place the balls into a greased baking tray and put them into a pre-heated oven at about 180 for 20 to 30 minutes; the amount of time depends on the size of the meatballs, so keep an eye on them and don’t let them dry out
8) When using beef, its best to have them slightly pink in the middle and finish them off in the pan with the sauce, but with other meats, such as pork or chicken, please make sure they are cooked right through before adding to the sauce
Method for the sauce
1) Stir-fry the garlic, onions, peppers and chilli in a little extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan
2) Add the passata and basil when the peppers and onions have softened
3) Add a pinch of salt and pepper and simmer
4) The longer you cook this sauce the better it will taste; if it starts to dry out, add a little water
5) When the meatballs are ready, add them to the saucepan and cook for a further ten minutes
Now your meatball marinara is ready to enjoy. You can eat it as it is, add some grated mozzarella to the top and melt under a grill, or add some spaghetti to it.
Buon Appetito!