Sample Sunday Italian Meatballs

 In Burn Out, Mike Mancini cooks a romantic dinner for Rachel – his mom’s famous spaghetti and meatballs. Here is the recipe for the meatballs and an excerpt of that chapter.

Burn Out  is available for 99 cents for a limited time.

Mike Mancini Meatball Recipe

1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground veal
1/2 pound ground pork
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs
1 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped Italian flat leaf
salt and ground black pepper to taste
2 cups stale Italian bread, crumbled
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 cup olive oil
1. Combine beef, veal, and pork in a large bowl. Add garlic, eggs, cheese, parsley, salt and pepper.
2. Blend bread crumbs into meat mixture. Slowly add the water 1/2 cup at a time. The mixture should be very moist but still hold its shape if rolled into meatballs. (I usually use about 1 1/4 cups of water). Shape into meatballs.
3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Fry meatballs in batches. When the meatball is very brown and slightly crisp remove from the heat and drain on a paper towel. (If your mixture is too wet, cover the meatballs while they are cooking so that they hold their shape better.)Serve with your favorite marinara sauce and noodles.

Read on for an excerpt from Burn Out.

Rachel walked in living room to the smell of garlic and tomatoes.  It was heavenly. “What is this?”

          Mike was stirring something in a pot on the stove. “Spaghetti and meatballs. My mom’s special recipe. Guaranteed to heal what ails you.”

He handed her a glass of red wine.

          “Thanks. It smells delicious.”

          “You look very nice.” Mike gave her kiss on the cheek.

          “Thanks. You too.” Rachel took her wine and sat on one of the barstools, watching Mike work. She had a hard time deciding what to wear. She still didn’t buy much when she replaced some of her wardrobe and the choices were limited. So Stacy ended up loaning her a simple black jersey knit dress with crochet detail on the cap sleeves and upper back. The dress hit just above the knees and showed off her tanned legs.  It was still hard to brush her hair and put on makeup due to the heavy bandage on her hand. But she felt like she did a fairly good job. Her eyebrows were still singed, so she had to take an eyebrow pencil and fill in the bare spots. She kept it simple and just put on some mascara to make her green eyes pop and a swipe of strawberry flavored lip gloss across her generous lips. She added mousse to her natural wavy hair to make it glossy. Rachel thought she looked pretty damn good for working with what she had. A spritz of Chanel Chance, her favorite perfume, and she was ready to go.

          She looked around the room, surprised. It was magically transformed. The candles sparkled on the table and jazz was playing in the background. This certainly feels like a date, she thought. Very romantic.

          Mike dished some spaghetti on the plates. “Please have a seat.” He pulled out a chair for her. “Just let me get the garlic bread from the oven and we’ll be ready to eat.”

          She watched as he finished up getting the bread and salad to the table. Rachel thought he looked great in a pair of khaki pants with a polo button down shirt and scuffed cowboy boots on. She had never seen him out of jeans and a t-shirt, so this was a treat.

          “You clean up nice,” Rachel said, teasing.

          “Yeah, I guess I do.”

          “Everything looks great. Thanks for doing this.” Rachel ate a forkful of spaghetti and savored the taste. “Yummy.”

          “Mom would be proud.”

          “Yes, she would. This is delicious.”

          “I’m sure this nothing compared to fine cuisine you are used to in Miami.”

          “I would rather eat this than anything I could get in Miami. This is pure comfort food.”

          “How do you like living in Miami?” Mike reached for a piece of garlic bread to sop up some of the red sauce with.

          “It’s great. All you can ask for. Great, white sandy beaches with emerald green waters. Nice weather year round. Shopping and restaurants galore. And an international airport to take you anywhere you need to go.”

          “Sounds like a nice lifestyle.”

          “And the Miami Heat. Can’t forget my sports team,” she said, taking a bite of the salad.

          “I never pegged you as sports fan.”

          “Sure. I love basketball. I have season tickets. You should come with me sometime.”

          “I would love to.” Mike took a generous sip of his wine. “Is that an invitation?”

          “Yes. Hot dogs, beer and a basketball game. What more could you ask for?”

          “What else do you do in your spare time?”

          “Well, unfortunately I don’t have a lot of spare time. When I do I like to shop. I’m an antique junkie. Also, have a weird thing for learning different languages.”

          “I don’t think it’s weird. How did you get started?”

          “When I was starting out in real estate, I wanted to do all I could to stand out as a top agent. A lot of my clients were from other countries. So, the first language I learned was Spanish, since Miami is home to many Hispanics. I found it easy and fun to learn. After Spanish, I mastered other languages.”

          “Such as?”

          “Ringraziarla per questa bella cena.” Rachel waved her hand over the food and smiled. It was Italian for this dinner is delicious.


          Rachel looked amused. “Farla parla l’italiano?”  Do you speak Italian?

          “Un po’. La mia mamma è italiana,” he answered. A little. My mom is Italian.

          “Nice. I love Italian. It is the most romantic language of all.”

          “It sounds really nice when you say it,” Mike said. “What else do you know?”

          “German and French. I was working on Mandarin Chinese before I got called on this case.”

          “A woman of many talents. Is there anything else I should know?”

          “I’m a lousy cook. I have about twenty-five restaurant phone numbers memorized by heart. My kitchen drawers are filled with take- out menus instead of utensils. So this is a real treat.” Rachel pointed to the plate of spaghetti, which was almost gone.

          Mike laughed. “Well, I love to cook. My mom taught me everything I know.”

          “What are your specialities?”

          “Let’s see… Besides spaghetti and meatballs, I can make lasagna, pasta carbonora, and a mean steak and twice-baked potato.”

          “That’s more than I can do. Bacon and eggs I have mastered fairly well, though.”

          “Well then, you can make breakfast next time,” Mike said.

          Rachel’s heart skipped a beat. Breakfast. She thought about what that implied.


About Traci Hohenstein

Full time writer, beachbum, and mom to 3 terrific kids.
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One Response to Sample Sunday Italian Meatballs

  1. Sibel Hodge says:

    Ooh, this recipe sounds delish! Will have to give it a go. And Burn Out is on my TBR list – can’t wait to get to it 🙂

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