With everyone home and cooking 3 meals a day and several more weeks of staying home on the horizon, why not perfect your meatball skills! Once you get the base right there are endless opportunities, I use them in appetizers, soups, sandwiches and entrees. Meatballs are not just for Spaghetti, every country has a version check out this link https://www.seriouseats.com/2015/01/meatball-style-guide-varieties-around-the-world.html
Tips for the Perfect Meatball:
- It’s all about the base decide on what meat you want to use. If a recipe calls for pork and you don’t eat pork, substitute it for turkey or whatever you like. *Note the classic meatloaf and meatball combination is ½ pound each pork, veal and beef.
- Breadcrumb and Milk Binder. One trick to making sure meatballs are totally tender once they are cooked is to use a binder. Place a combination of fresh and dry breadcrumbs such as Panko, Italian or even Saltines in a bowl and add enough milk, crème, ricotta to cover or a few eggs to create a binder or a panade. This will add moisture to the meat and prevent the meat proteins from becoming tough during the cooking process.
- Don’t skip the flavor profile! Make sure to add fresh and dry herbs, cheese, vegetables, sauces or any flavors that when finished make the meatball the star.
- Avoid overworking the meat. Mix the meat with the binder and other ingredients until combined. Using your hands form the meatballs into desired shape.
- Roasting, Frying or Simmering. For me, if the quantity isn’t to large, I go for a combination. Frying to get that color and caramelization and finishing in the oven to keep them moist.
- Freezer Friendly. The beauty of meatballs is that they freeze perfectly and make a quick dinner in a pinch. So double up on your recipe when you decide to make them.
My go to recipe for meatballs is organic chicken with scratch made marinara check it out:
FOR THE SAUCE:
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons minced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 28-ounce cans imported Italian San Marzano crushed tomatoes or whole tomatoes
6 leaves fresh basil, torn into small pieces
Pinch of dried oregano
Salt and ground black pepper (I use red pepper flake)
FOR THE MEATBALLS:
1-pound ground white meat organic chicken *Can use beef or meatloaf mix
½ cup fresh bread crumbs can use dried Italian bread crumbs or a combination of both
Half n half
1 cup diced peppers, zucchini, squash and purple onion (can omit but adds flavor)
½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoon fresh parsley
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
Kosher salt and a pinch or 2 red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon garlic powder *Can use fresh garlic
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Yields 10-15 Meatballs depending on size
1. Make the sauce: Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Sauté onion with salt until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and sauté just until softened. Add tomatoes and their juices and bring to a boil. Add the basil, oregano, parm rind and reduce heat to low and simmer until sauce is slightly thickened, about 45 minutes. If adding meatballs, place in sauce to simmer.
2. Make the meatballs: Toss peppers (no green pepper), vegetables and onions in evoo, garlic powder, salt and pepper and roast in 350-degree oven until tender about 15 minutes, let cool. While vegetables are cooking, soak fresh breadcrumb combination in half n half in a large mixing bowl. After liquid is absorbed, add chicken and balance of items, plus cooled vegetables. Do not over work. Shape into desired shape of meatballs. *Cooks Tip I take a small amount of meatball mixture and test in Skillet to make sure flavors are balanced.
3. Heat the oil in a large non-stick sauté pan over medium heat. Working in batches and taking care not to crowd the pan, add meatballs and fry until undersides are brown and slightly crisp, 5 to 6 minutes. Turn and brown the other sides, about 5 minutes more. Transfer meatballs to 350 oven and finish cooking about 10 minutes then add to the marinara sauce. * You can Bake the Meatballs on Parchment Paper 35-40 minutes make sure internal temperature is 160 they will continue to cook in Sauce.