Meatballs

Meatballs are a classic comfort food and they are so versatile.  You’ll find countless recipes in cookbooks and online.  Spaghetti and meatballs, Swedish meatballs, meatball subs, teeny tiny meatballs in Italian wedding soup.  They can be adapted to different ethnic cuisines by altering the meat you use, the seasonings and the sauces.   Jewish meatballs made with ground lamb, veal or chicken.  Middle Eastern are made with bulgur (cracked wheat) and ground lamb, beef, goat or camel. Traditional German meatballs are made with beef liver or pork.  In Austria spleen is mixed in with the liver.  And, of course, Finnish meatballs, which are made with ground beef, fried in butter, and finished in a milk gravy.  I just made a very large batch of meatballs to take to a funeral dinner.  The ingredients below are for a small batch…about 15-20 medium size meatballs.  I multiplied the recipe by eight.  Use the ground meat of your choosing.  I used half ground round and half bulk Italian sausage.

Ingredients:

1 pound ground meat

1 egg

1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

1/2 cup milk or half n half

1 cup bread crumbs

2 tsp garlic salt

1 T Worcestershire

2 T fresh flat leaf parsley chopped

1/2 c finely diced onio

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried basil

I save ends of bread and grind them up in my food processor for bread crumbs.  I added my parsley near the end of the grind.

Once your bread is in the bowl stir in your milk or half n half and add the eggs.

Add the ground meat, onions, Worcestershire, garlic and herbs.

Add the fresh grated cheese.

Now comes the fun part.  Take off your rings, roll up your sleeves and dig in with both hands.  Mix all of the ingredients together well.  Once everything is incorporated you’re ready to start making balls.

I lined a baking sheet with parchment paper (easier clean up) and used a scoop to make my meatballs a consistent size.

I baked these at 375 for approximately 20 minutes.  Baking time will vary based on the size and number of meatballs.  Internal temperature should ideally be 160 degrees.  Meatballs can also be fried on top of the stove in butter or olive oil.  I almost always bake my meatballs unless I’m making a small batch in which case I may do them over medium high heat in a cast iron skillet.

Once the meatballs are done it is time to sauce them.  You can add them to your pasta sauce, pizza sauce, or gravy depending on what you’re serving.  I used what I call a sweet and sour and it’s been a standby for years.  One bottle of Brooks Tangy catsup and one can of Ocean Spray Whole Cranberry Sauce.  Stir the two together and ladle over the meatballs.

Because I made 8X the recipe, I layered the meatballs and sauce in the roaster.  By doing that you ensure that the sauce reaches all of the meatballs for best results.

Once they’ve been sauced I put them in the oven at 325 degrees for about an hour to meld the flavors.  And that’s that.  Enjoy!

NOTE:  If you’re making meatballs they freeze well.  You’re already making a mess and getting your hands dirty so you might as well double or triple the recipe.  Allow them to cool completely, put them in freezer bags and they’ll be ready for a quick dinner or appetizer.  One of my Dad’s favorite foods was meatloaf.  I used to make up enough for several miniature loaf pans and freeze them for easy dinners.

Change up the ground meat…chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, beef or a combination.  Change up the spices depending on the dish you’re serving and the flavor profile you’re looking for.

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