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Grandma Tiny’s Meatballs

By Fran Sigurdsson
Published: November 1, 2009
Photo by John and Tanya Bäck

I am Italian-American. On Thanksgiving and Christmas, we feast on traditional fare: turkey with lashings of cranberry sauce and all the trimmings. But guests spending the holidays at our Adirondack lakehome enjoy spaghetti and meatballs at least once during their stay.

My mom, Annamai DeCarlo Funaro (aka “Tiny”), was born and raised in Ashtabula, Ohio. I believe the happiest days of her girlhood took place on the shores of Lake Erie, cousins and chums in tow, at the resort Geneva on the Lake.

This recipe is perfect for serving guests the night they arrive, as the meatballs can be prepared ahead (they freeze well), and reheated while you cook the pasta. It’s also a welcome break from turkey leftovers. Plus, the meat-a-balls make great lunchtime subs. Mangia!

Serves 8-10.


  • 3 pounds ground beef


  • 1½ cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 eggs (beaten)
  • 3 tablespoons dried parsley
  • ¼ cup garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons dried oregano
  • ¼ cup onion powder or grated onion
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil
  • Oil for frying (fill pan to 1 ¼ - to 1 ½-inch depth)


1. Combine all ingredients.

2. Shape into meatballs.

3. Preheat large frying pan; add oil.

4. Fry meatballs, turning on all sides to brown.

5. Remove meatballs and drain on paper towels.

6. Simmer meatballs in tomato sauce until fully cooked (about 15-30 minutes).

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