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Or, homemade meatballs with roasted garlic, olives, and tomato sauce. Created by chef Michael Psilakis, these are a Greek take on the standard Italian dish. These meatballs were awarded the Best Meatball of 2007 by both The New York Times and New York Magazine. Although time-consuming, they’re worth it, and are a great way to experiment with the flavors of a meatball. Psilakis tells us that if you want to make these balls the night before, follow the recipe through cooking them, then cool and reserve in the refrigerator. Before serving, warm them through in a 325-degree oven, stirring gently so you don’t break up the meatballs, and follow through to the last step to finish them.

Click here to see How to Make a Better Meatball.

Calories Per Serving


For the chunky tomato sauce

  • One 15-ounce can whole plum tomatoes, juices included
  • 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large Spanish or sweet onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 Cup red wine
  • 1 fresh bay leaf, or 2 dried leaves
  • 1 large handful basil leaves
  • 1 1/2 Cup water

For the meatballs

  • 15 slices Wonder Bread, crusts trimmed off
  • 1 1/2 Cup milk
  • 1 Pound ground beef
  • 1/2 Pound ground pork
  • 1/2 large Spanish or sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 Cup finely chopped parsley
  • 2 Tablespoons dried Greek oregano
  • 1/2 Cup grated Graviera cheese
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • All-purpose flour, as needed
  • 90/10 blend of canola and extra-virgin olive oil, for shallow-frying
  • 1/4 Cup olive oil
  • 2 whole scallions, sliced
  • 2 plum tomatoes, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 12 cracked, brined green olives, pitted and torn
  • 12 Kalamata olives, pitted and torn
  • 12 cloves Garlic Confit (recipe below)
  • 1 Teaspoon fresh dill leaves
  • 15 leaves basil, torn
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed

For the garlic confit

  • 3 Cups garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 fresh bay leaf, or 2 dried leaves
  • 8-10 sprigs thyme
  • Kosher salt and whole black peppercorns, to taste
  • 2 Cups blended oil, (50 percent canola, 50 percent extra-virgin olive), as needed


For the chunky tomato sauce

In a food processor, purée about 1/3 of the tomatoes. Warm the olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until almost tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more, then deglaze the pan with the red wine and add the bay leaf, basil, water, and the puréed and whole tomatoes and all their juices. Simmer for 5 minutes, all the time breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Halve the tomato sauce standing by on the stove in a very large pot for when you're making the meatballs. 

For the meatballs

In a large bowl, soak the Wonder Bread with milk. Squeeze most of the milk out of the bread, and transfer to another large bowl. Tear the bread into small pieces. Add the beef, pork, onion, parsley, oregano, graviera, and egg; season liberally with kosher salt and pepper. With clean hands, mix thoroughly until evenly blended. Use an ice cream scoop to form firmly packed, golf-ball-sized meatballs.

Spread a generous bed of flour on a large platter. Warm about ¼ inch of blended oil in your largest skillet over medium-high heat. Dredge the meatballs in the flour, coating them evenly. Fry in batches until golden brown on all sides. As they brown, transfer the meatballs to the pot of tomato sauce, keeping the sauce at a very low simmer. Cook gently until all the meatballs are tender and very juicy, about 1 hour.

In a skillet, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the scallions and sauté for 2 minutes, then add the tomatoes, olives, and garlic confit. Sauté for 1 minute, then add the mixture to the pot of meatballs and stir very gently, to combine. Simmer for 1 or 2 minutes and transfer onto a platter. Scatter with herbs and drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil.

For the garlic confit

Put the garlic cloves in a heavy, covered braising pan or Dutch oven. Add the bay leaf and thyme, a scant tablespoon kosher salt, and 15 or 20 black peppercorns. Barely cover with the oil.

Cover the pan and braise in a 300-degree oven until the cloves are pale golden and very tender, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool it to room temperature.

Transfer the garlic and all of the oil to a sterilized jar. Press a square of plastic wrap down directly onto the surface of the oil. Place another square of plastic over the rim of the jar and twist on the lid or secure with a rubber band. With every use, replace the square of plastic that touches the oil and use a perfectly clean fork or tongs each time to prevent cross-contamination from other surfaces in your kitchen. As long as the cloves are covered with oil, they will last for at least 3 weeks in the refrigerator.