Sunday, December 26, 2010

Cynthia Amelia McLain (Vecchio) of Danforth, Maine Famous Meatballs Recipe

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My mother in law on right.

In honor of my mother-in-law's passing on 12/16/10 (read more here) I have decided to release one of her top secret spongy Italian meatball recipes as taught to her daughter.  Now anyone that knew Cyn knew that she loved to cook, in fact, I want to say this is what she loved most.  She loved nothing better than for you to visit in her home and let her make you something to eat.  Italian by nature (nee Vecchio) she had a penchant for Italian Cuisine but turning down food offered by Cyn would be considered a cardinal sin.

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Cynthia Amelia McLain's Meaball Recipe

Everything she cooked turned out delicious, which I attribute to proper use of seasonings but even more so, LOVE Cyn could make meatballs fifty different whether it be in a hurry, or a pinch, low-fat, or full of fat, or if she was bored the long and drawn out way below.  Over the years my wife inherited her mom and grandmother Dolores Vecchio's famous recipe, and coveted it until now. Ironically, it was Cyn's wish to always put her recipes out in a cookbook.  She also wished for people to have a good meal and think of her.  So, with that said, this is for you Cyn, you will be missed.

Cyn Amelia's Famous Meatballs
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35-45 minutes on 350 degrees or until internal temperature is 165
Serving Size:  Family of 4 to 6

You will need: 
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2 to 2.25 lbs of ground beef (or ground turkey if low-fat version)
2 sourdough sandwich sized rolls
2 large eggs
2 tbsp. coarse pepper
1/2 stick of butter (salted)
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
3 cloves fresh garlic chopped, or 2 tsp jar garlic
2-3 tbsp. Italian Seasoning
2-3 tbsp. Parmesan Cheese
*Italian Bread Crumbs on Standby
Skillet
Non-Stick Spatula
Mixing Bowl
Large spoon or another Spatula
Pizza or lipped baking tray



Step One:  Prepping the Garlic and Oil

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For this recipe we are going to make our own "bread crumbs", although often Cyn would settle for the store bought "Italian Bread Crumbs" swearing the same taste. Her daughter remembers a day when they would do it the old fashioned way, having nothing but time to cook and laugh.

Heat your skillet on low, chopping and dicing fresh cloves of garlic or using the jarred version. Add your 1/2 stick of butter and oil at this step.  Sizzle until your garlic is somewhat toasted. 

Step Two:  Making the Bread Crumbs

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If you're lazy you could always use bread crumbs, but this is so much more "therapeutic" as Cyn would say.

Use your two rolls and rub them together, allowing the crumbs from the bread to fall into the skillet.  No worries if some pieces are large, most will be small to medium sized.  Use a non-stick spatula to stir quickly around in your skillet coating the crumbs with the oil, butter, and garlic.  Add in 1/2 of your Italian Seasoning now.  Stir quickly until your crumbs are toasted.  Turn skillet off and allow to cool.


Step Three:  Prepping your Ground Beef
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Old crockery makes this generation old "Vecchio" recipe seem nostalgic.
Break up your ground beef and  add two large eggs.  Use your new spatula to fold the egg into the meat.  Add in your cooled bread crumbs when cooled, folding over and over until the mixture looks good.


Step Four:  Proper Consistency of Mixture
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Mixture should be firm yet colorful!

It's time to ensure you have the proper consistency of mixture.  Add the rest of your Italian seasoning now, and your Parmesan cheese.  Further fold and if you feel your mixture is too runny (if your beef is real fatty and eggs are too runny) use your emergency backup of Italian Bread crumbs, adding only a tablespoon at a time continually folding until your meat feels tight enough to mold. 


Step Five:  Mold Balls & Pepper

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It should be noted here that bigger is better. We molded in large 2.5" balls, and ended up with almost 15-18 of them.  Spread out on your lipped cookie tray or in this case we used a pizza pan.  Sprinkle your coarse black pepper on top.

Step Six:  Bake !

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Time to bake at 350 degrees. You may see separation of juices from the butter and oil, but that's okay.  Less fat in your body but the flavor is retained. Depending on size of your balls and your oven, you should cook until meatballs are 165 inside temperature.

Optional:  Add to Crock Pot for Maximum Sponginess
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I had my sauce cooking in a crockpot on low simmering for two hours earlier plus the 45 minutes during my prep and cook time of my meatballs.   After my meatballs were fully cooked, I simmered them in the sauce for an extra 30 minutes for ultimate spongi-ness.

Mandatory:  Think of Cyn or a Mom you knew and loved and lost, when you eat these meatballs.
Cynthia Amelia McLain, Danforth Maine
Rest in Peace Cynthia Amelia McLain 9/30/51-12/16/10
know her here

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