Homemade Meatballs

April 25, 2010.   1 Comments.   Categories Comfort Food, Italian.   Tags , , , , , .

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Homemade Meatballs 

My husband Bill adores really good meatballs.  Spaghetti and meatballs…. meatball subs… just loves them.  He’s been asking me to make them for quite sometime and I’ve been putting them off. Why? Well, because there is something sacred to this guy about meatballs. The meatball sub for lunch is hollowed ground and he is the ultimate critic. I’ll admit it… I was intimidated by the meatball!  Would I live up to this high standard? Such pressure.

Recently he was injured in a ski accident and had surgery.  He’ll be o.k. but now he’s home recovering and it’s my job to spoil him.  So . . . with fresh basil in hand . . . I decided to conquer my fear and tackle this seemingly easy dish.  And you know what? It really is easy to make them great.  I did make a few modifications after experimenting.  I also knew that if I tried to get too “gourmet” and add non traditional ingredients… it would backfire. So I kept it simple.

You’ll notice I didn’t take any ”glamor shots” of the finished product. I was focused on the food and didn’t think to take pictures. And you know what?  Some foods just don’t require photos.  And I like this photo of my husband and son I snapped the day I made these.  

This recipe doesn’t include a recipe for Spaghetti from scratch.  I just used a very good quality store bought sauce I found at Whole Foods and doctored it up with lots of fresh basil, some Italian seasoning and hot pepper flakes (which my husband puts on everything.)  Just make your favorite spaghetti.  Also, as always… add more fresh herbs if you’d like.  

I’m happy to report that this recipe got a “thumbs up” from my hubby and our son Wyatt, a meatball expert in training.  

Whew. Mission Accomplished.

Ingredients: 

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 TBSP, chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 slices good quality white bread, crust removed
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef, 85% lean
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground pork
  • 1/4 lb bulk hot Italian sausage (optional)
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, fresh grated
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Wholearth Spice – Italian blend (optional)
  • Spaghetti sauce (homemade or good quality jarred)
  • 3 TBSP fresh basil, chopped
Method:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Using a large skillet, heat 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil over a medium heat until just shimmering.  Add the chopped onion and cook for a few minutes until they soften.  Make sure your onion is chopped very small so it will mix well with the meat mixture. Add parsley and chopped garlic and cook for a few more minutes until soft and translucent.  Remove pan from heat and allow to cool.
Place bread slices in a pan and pour just enough milk over all slices and allow to soak while you prepare the meat mixture.  This bread trick is from Tyler Florence and I think it adds a nice layer of moisture compared to bread crumbs.
Combine all meats into a large bowl.  Add the egg and Parmigiano.  Season with salt and pepper.  I also added a few shakes of my friend David Wells organic spices, Wholearth Spice Italian blend.  The spices are all top quality and his blends are packed with flavor.  You can find them in Whole Foods in California or visit his website.
Gently squeeze the excess milk from the bread slices and add to the bowl along with the onion mixture. Carefully and gently combine all the ingredients using your clean hands until they are just mixed together.  If you see bread clumps just use your finger tips to press and knead it into the meat mixture. Be careful you don’t over work or mix the meat.  The more you work it, the less tender the meatballs.
Grab a ping-pong to golfball size piece of meat mixture and gently shape them into balls.  Do not over work them!  You want them just lightly packed but well-shaped.
Take the same large skillet you used for the onion mixture – gently wipe down the inside with a paper towel (make sure it’s cool enough) in order to get any small bits of onion out but leaving the oil.  Add about 4 tablespoons of olive oil over a medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering but not smoking.
Add several meatballs so you have at least an inch between them.  You want them to brown and not steam.  You also want to make sure you have room to turn them with a flat spatula… so don’t crowd them. Make sure they are nicely browned and be careful to use a metal spatula to quickly turn so they don’t stick. Brown on all sides and place in a baking dish.   Season with a little salt and pepper.
Pour your favorite sauce over the meatballs.  Season as you like… I added lots of fresh basil and a little drizzle of olive oil.  An extra sprinkle of David’s seasoning too.  Bake in your oven until the meatballs are cooked through.  Depending on the size you made the meatballs, this could be anywhere from 15 to 35 minutes.  I know it’s a big range but just check them after about 15 minutes if they are ping-pong sized.  If larger… add more time.
Serve with your favorit
e Spaghetti and lots of freshly grated Parmigiano.  Add more fresh chopped basil for flavor and a sprig for garnish.
Enjoy!

1 Comment

  1. The initial United states pasta manufacturing facility was opened up in Brooklyn, New York, in 1848, by a Frenchman called Antoine Zerega.

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