The reason for including breadcrumbs in a meatball recipe is for binding, but we decided to add a little flavor with them as well, using Cheez-Its. While they are a little more dense than fresh breadcrumbs, soaking the crushed crackers in milk adjusts their texture and lets them add the perfect amount of tangy, Cheddar cheese flavor to this classic recipe.
Special thanks to Patricia Stagich of Comfy Cuisine for helping us test this recipe.
- 1 1/2 Cup processed Cheez-Its
- 1 Cup milk
- 1/2 Cup cooked onions
- 5 eggs
- 1 Tablespoon chopped garlic
- 3/4 Cups Pecorino cheese, plus more for garnish
- 1/2 Cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped, plus whole leaves for garnish
- 1 Tablespoon salt
- 1/2 Tablespoon black pepper
- 2 1/2 Pounds ground beef
- 1 Cup tomato sauce
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the Cheez-Its and the milk and let them soak for at least 20 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, onions, garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper. Add the ground beef and the milk-soaked Cheez-Its and mix by hand until just combined. Scoop approximately 2 ounces of the meat mixture to form each meatball and arrange in a baking dish. Chill in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
Bake for 12 minutes. Meanwhile, bring the tomato sauce to a simmer in a medium-sized pot. After 12 minutes, remove the meatballs from the oven, drain off any fat and liquids, and add the tomato sauce. Return to the oven and bake until a meat thermometer inserted into the center of a meatball reads 160 degrees. Serve meatballs with tomato sauce and garnish with cheese and parsley.