Johnna’s Award Winning Meatballs

[ 0 ] May 23, 2012 |

True Reaction: Surprised at my win:-) ©GirlMeetsFood


1 pound(s) ground beef

1 cups Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

2 medium onion, chopped fine

4 garlic cloves, crushed and minced

2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes

3 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

5 slices of Bacon (sliced into 1″ pieces)

Kosher salt (*to taste)

Black Pepper (*to taste)

4 large eggs

Spicy Meat Sauce:

2 tbsp. olive oil

Crushed red pepper flakes (*to taste)

Kosher Salt (*to taste)

1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste

2 can(s) (28 ounces each) whole San Marzano tomatoes, chopped


Meatballs:  Combine the meatball ingredients; shape into 1-inch balls. Place in slow cooker; top with sauce (*recipe below). Cover with lid. Cook on LOW 6 to 8 hours (*or on HIGH 3 to 4 hours).

Sauce:  Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add tomato paste; add pepper flakes; cook, stirring, season with salt and cook, stirring, 5 minutes more.  Add canned tomatoes and bring to a boil; immediately reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 35 minutes.


*Johnna’s tip:  This is the official award winning Meatball recipe!  The look on my face was priceless when they announed the 2012 Winner of the Great Grapes! Wine, Arts & Food Festival.  Simplicity helped me in the end.  Literally, I woke up the morning of the contest with all these ingredients in front of me and began piecing them together for an edible creation.  Since I took the traditional meatball route, I needed something that would make it stand out and what better star of the show than bacon.  Bacon seems to make everything better so I figured meatballs would be no exception to the rule.  This was my very first time working with meatballs, I’m usually the consumer at baby showers, bridal showers and the like where these things tend to show up constantly.  Trying my hand at it proved to myself that I still have what it takes for the kitchen…I have been worried about my skills lately since I’m spending more time at dining room tables than in front of the cutting board.

Needless to say I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Great Grapes! Festival.  My tips on perfecting these meatballs would be to make sure you have enough egg which plays the glue for the ingredients…some of my meatballs were sketchy from crumbling apart, which is why those were pushed to the back away from the judging plates.  Lastly, have fun with the recipe…parsley as a garnish, add in some raisins or even some finely chopped asparagus…traditional style meatballs offer endless possibilities!

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Category: Crock Pot, main dish, sauces

About the Author ()

Johnna French is a Harlem NY native with deep roots in Panama, Washington, DC and North Carolina. All four places have heavily influenced her life and the foods she loves today. After graduating Howard University School of Law and beginning her life as a young professional in the city she was led to start Johnna Knows Good Food in November 2007 to keep family, friends and colleagues updated on where to go and what to eat while dining in the nation’s capitol. French, who still practices law, leads a team of three writers to cover the ever expanding Washington, DC food scene. French has been featured in print and television, appearing in Washingtonian Magazine and is a regular contributor to various local TV affiliates including WUSA 9, FOX 5 DC and WJLA (ABC Affiliate) News Channel 8. During the 2016-2017 football season, Johnna aired on Comcast Sports Mid-Atlantic (CSN) show, Redskins Life, as the weekly tailgate host. Johnna is currently a regular contributor to the FOX Baltimore Weekend morning show.

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