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Braised Italian Meatballs

Difficulty 4/5
|
Prep time 30 mins

Cook time 2 hrs
|
Serves 6-8

Hardwood Alder

Smoky, fork-tender and full of wood-fired flavor, these Italian braised meatballs by Amanda Haas show off the legendary versatility of a Traeger. These meatballs are roasted, then dropped into a pan with crushed tomatoes for a long, flavorful braise.

Ingredients

1 lb ground beef

1 lb ground pork

4 oz prosciutto, finely diced

1 cup fresh bread crumbs

Kosher salt

2 tsp Fennel seeds

1 tsp Oregano

1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese

1/2 cup milk

3 eggs, whisked

1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes, in their juices

Extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup basil leaves

Preparation

When ready to cook, set the temperature to 375℉ and preheat, lid closed for 15 minutes.
 
In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, pork, prosciutto, bread crumbs, 2 tsp salt, fennel seed, and oregano. 
 
In a separate mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, milk, and eggs and whisk to combine. 
 
Using freshly washed hands, combine the meats with the bread crumbs, salt, and herbs until the mixture is evenly combined and the herbs are evenly incorporated. 
 
Slowly pour the liquid mixture over the meat and continue to use your hands to combine. The mixture will be tacky even when well mixed. Allow to sit for 10 minutes. 
 
Pro Tip: To check the seasoning of your mixture before cooking off the entire batch, form 1 2-inch patty and cook in a small sauté pan until cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Taste and adjust the seasoning of the meat mixture as needed.
 
Line a large baking sheet with parchment or Traeger butcher paper. Alternately, lightly grease the baking sheet.
 
Using clean hands or an ice cream scoop, form meatballs into the size of golf balls. 
 
Arrange them on the baking sheet with a little space between each so they are not touching. The mixture should yield about 48 meatballs.
 
Place the baking sheet directly on the grill and cook, turning the meatballs once, until cooked through when cut in half, about 20 minutes.
 
Remove from the grill, add the second batch if necessary, and repeat.
 
Reduce the grill temperature to 300℉. 
 
When the meatballs are cool enough to handle, place all of them in a large roasting pan. Pour the crushed tomatoes over the top. Sprinkle with an additional teaspoon of salt and drizzle 3 tbsp of olive oil over the top. 
 
Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil. Place on the grill and cook, covered, for 60-90 minutes or until the tomatoes have absorbed some of the flavor from the meatballs and the meatballs are fork tender.
 
Remove meatballs from the grill and sprinkle with basil. Alternately, the meatballs can be roasted, cooled, and refrigerated a day in advance, then brought to room temperature and braised in the tomato sauce before serving. Enjoy!
 
*Cook times will vary depending on set and ambient temperatures.
 
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