I make these for parties, doubling or tripling the recipe depending on the size of the gathering. I've made just a couple of changes in the original recipe, which comes from Julia Child & Company.
The meatballs are so flavorful, and the sauce is a little different from the usual gravy-like sauce one often sees.
Recently, for a party, I made more of these than was necessary, so a recipe using the leftover meatballs follows.
Meatballs a la Julia Child
1/4 lb. mild Italian sausage
1 lb. lean ground beef
2/3 C. fresh nonsweet white bread crumbs
5 T. dry vermouth
2 cloves garlic, very finely minced
8 or more drops of Tabasco
2 tsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. oregano or thyme
1/2 to 3/4 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 T. Dijon mustard
1/2 cup dry vermouth
1 C. beef stock
1 tsp. soy sauce
salt, pepper, and oregano or thyme
2 T. tomato paste
Preheat the over to 450 degrees. Soak the bread crumbs in the 5 T. of vermouth. Beat meat, egg, crumbs, and seasonings together. I use a food processor for this to get a very smooth texture. Roll the mixture into small balls about an inch in diameter, then roll each in flour and arrange in a single layer in a baking dish. Bake for about 15 minutes, possibly more, turning the meatballs once or twice, just till they're nicely browned and just stiffened. Drain, if necessary, in a sieve or colander.
Mix the mustard with the vermouth, beating them together well. Mix with the rest of the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil down the sauce until lightly thickened (it won't thicken very much, but it will thicken some). Add the meatballs to the sauce.
You can make these ahead and refrigerate them. Just reheat before serving, then place in a crockpot.
This isn't so much a recipe as general directions. The amount of each ingredient depends on how many meatballs you have left over as well as your personal preferences.
Saute chopped onion in a soup pot. After a few minutes, add sliced celery and carrot in thick half-slices or large dice. (Mushrooms would have been an excellent addition, but I didn't have any.) Pour in some beef stock; I used a couple of cups, plus some water. At this point I added hulled barley, which takes a lot longer to cook than does pearl barley. I let this stock simmer for a while, until the veggies were tender and the barley nearly so.
Add the meatballs and their sauce. I found that the tomato paste in the sauce made it unnecessary to add tomatoes to the stew, but go with what you like. If you need more liquid, add some stock. Add some herbs of your choice; I used basil and oregano. You'll need to adjust the salt and pepper. Simmer until the meatballs are heated through and the liquid thickens a bit. If the liquid doesn't thicken to your liking after a good simmer, use a cornstarch-and-water mixture to thicken it.
Serve the stew over noodles.