Frankies' Meatballs & Sauce. No Pasta Needed

I have mentioned Frankies' Spuntino in NYC quite a bit on this blog.
Their food is just fantastic, as is their house brand olive oil and their fun book Frankies' Spuntino Handbook.

For Sunday dinner, I decided to try their 4 hour tomato sauce and their Sicilian style meatballs, both recipes not being your average meatballs and sauce. They don't serve them over spaghetti in the restaurant, it's just a lovely bowl of delicious sauce w/ 3 succulent meatballs looking up at you.

Pasta is not needed (and when do I say that?).

The sauce uses 13 whole cloves of garlic, which is a strange number and a bit unconventional. It uses 4 cans of tomatoes, olive oil, some red pepper flakes and sea salt.

It's so basic, you think how can this be the best sauce? Well it is.

It's the 4 hours that cooks down the San Marzano tomatoes releasing their natural sugar to make this sauce rich and delicious.

The meatballs are a bit wacky, using 4 eggs, raisins & pine nuts, and rustic bread dipped in water. Not your typical meatball, that's for sure.

We loved them both, and they were as good as if we had ordered them at Frankies' restaurant.

So if you have 4 hours on a Sunday, make this comforting meal.

Frankies' (there are 2 guys named Frank) Meatballs: (makes about 20 golf ball sized meatballs).
You can watch their meatball making video here, and yes, I think they both need a haircut.

2 lbs. ground beef
4 slices of bread (rustic white or an Italian white bread)
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 eggs
1/4 cup of grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup of golden raisins
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
15 turns of white pepper (weird number)
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup of dried breadcrumbs

Dip the bread in water for a few seconds in a bowl, then drain the water and wring out the moisture from the bread. Tear into tiny pieces and add to a large bowl.

To the bread, add all of the ingredients, except for the dried breadcrumbs (which you will add in last).

Using your hands, combine all the ingredients together. I made golf ball size meatballs, though the recipe calls for "handball" sized. What is that? Not sure. I don't play handball (or golf for that matter).

Lay out your meatballs on 2 rimmed baking sheets and bake for 25 minutes in a 325F oven. The meatballs can now be refrigerated for a later date or used with the sauce. Recipe to follow.

Frankies' Tomato Sauce:

Four 28oz. cans of San Marzano whole tomatoes
1 cup of olive oil
13 (another weird number) whole cloves garlic
2 tsp sea salt
pinch of hot red pepper flakes

On low heat, cook the 13 whole cloves of garlic in the olive oil and let them turn golden and fragrant for about 10 minutes. If they are getting too brown and acrid smelling, take the pot off the heat immediately, you don't want to burn the garlic.
Add the pinch of red pepper flakes the last 30 seconds of cooking to flavor the oil.

While the garlic is cooking get the tomatoes ready.
In a large bowl, using your hands, crush the tomatoes and remove the basil leaves (that sometimes come in the can).

Add the tomatoes and salt to the garlic and oil and simmer for 4 hours on a nice steady low heat, stirring or "mothering" the sauce, as the Franks say. Taste at the end for seasoning.

When you are ready to serve the meatballs, drop as many meatballs as needed (3 per person) into the sauce and simmer for 30 minutes, no more, so the meatballs take on some of the wonderful tomato flavor.

I swear, no pasta is needed, but if you feel you can't break tradition, and have to serve this over spaghetti, that would be ok too!



mil said…
Mamma Mia... now that is right up my alley. What a production!!!!!!!!! They look and sound delicious. 4 hours!!!!!!!
You are something else.
Oui, Chef said…
I love the idea of pine nuts and raisins in the meatballs, and the sauce sounds divine. I'll have to check out Spuntinos the next time I'm in the city, but until then, I'll have this great recipe to keep me all warm and cozy. I DO think I'll have to make the pasta though. - S
i've had these! where was I? lol
but man they are gooood.
SarahB said…
These look soo good!!! I have to make them!!
They look delcious, Stacy! I never added pinoli nuts or raisens to my meatballs as that is Sicilian style, and my husband's family is Calabrian. Someday I have to try it!
Joanne said…
I feel like I'm constantly on the hunt for THE perfect tomato sauce (mainly so that I'll have something that can compete with my father's) and this sounds like it could be THE ONE. I love the unconventional ingredients in the meatballs. That's certainly what sets them apart.
Anonymous said…
OK, 2 questions, maybe -
1. could I substitute currants for the golden raisins?
...and if i CAN'T
2. please tell me where to go to get over my sultana phobia?
Thanks for the fun video! The Frankies' haircuts, or lack thereof, weren't THAT bad. Not EVERYBODY can look like Paul Belmondo. And 4 hours aside, I think the, glug-glug-glug, full cup of olive oil helps ease this red sauce into rich and delicious territory.
Carole said…
Raisins in meatballs? I trust you so I'll try it soon.
kat said…
Those are crazy sounding meatballs but why not!
Kathy Walker said…
Oh goodness...these meatballs and sauce look wonderful! I haven't ever used raisins in meatballs but there is a first time for everything. I will have to give it a try!
Jen_from_NJ said…
I've been wanting to make Sicilian style meatballs. The sauce sounds great - plenty of garlic!
Swain said…
Would the sauce recipe work in the slow cooker? Like if you sauteed the coven of garlic on the stove, but then poured the oil into the slow cooker pot, added the tomatoes, and put it on low for 8 hours? High for 4? It's the time/setting that I'm not sure of...
Kadensgran said…
Have to try. Do you remove the whole garlic cloves when the sauce is finished cooking or leave them in until all of the sauce has been used?
Stacey Snacks said…
Kadensgran, you leave the garlic in the pot with the sauce for 4 hours. The garlic pretty much breaks down, so you won't be eating whole cloves!
Sprinzette said…
Ooh, I must try making these. Am really glad to have discovered your food blog - look forward to looking through your recipes for more ideas.
Dewi said…
I made it, husband and son love it. Thank Stacey. I just sent you e-mail with the picture of this meatballs.

Mama Mia is right! I was raised with raisins in our meatballs, then my kids didn't like them with they were little so I stopped making them. I love that little book I've read it, I need to make a pot of these ASAP! I will put this in my Stacey Inspiration File!
Karen said…
I want to make this right now!!