Do you make a lot of meatballs? Surprisingly, I do. I use them in the traditional Spaghetti and Meatballs and as appetizers, in sandwiches, dipped in hummus and even in an ambiguously Indian, sweet and sour style dish.
Meatballs are incredibly versatile and helpful in deluding yourself that you haven’t eaten a pound of fatty, ground meats because they’re small and spherical-shaped.
Fail-proofing Your Meatballs
Pick your meats wisely – This is not a time to get diet-crazy. Get that nice, fat-injected bit of ground beef. 80/20 is generally the sweet spot. You could also go for some ground chuck, which is usually at the 80/20 fat ratio anyhow. Furthermore, it would benefit you to mix meats. I always use half ground chuck and half ground pork. Depending on your recipe, you may substitute that ground pork with sweet, Italian sausage, hot sausage, ground veal, even some ground lamb! The mixture of specific meats ensures tastiness and moist meatballs. Moist meatballs. Moist. I love the word moist.
Season Well – Do not skimp on the salt or any other seasonings you choose to put in. Italian meatballs lend themselves well to a fresh bit of sharp, salty, hard cheese like Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano. Grate some in; get the good stuff.
Don’t Over-mix – Use your hands to mix. Don’t be afraid of raw meat. Use the best tool you have – your clean hands. However, over-mixing your meat creates a tough meatball. Use some elbow grease but only until the meat is just combined.
Soak Your Bread – Whether you use breadcrumbs, oats, semolina, torn pieces of stale bread – whatever you use, it’s best to let them soak in the milk you will use for your meatballs for a minute or two. Doing this will hydrate the carbohydrates and make it easier for the bread and the meat to be thoroughly combined without over-mixing.
Sear and Simmer – Sear the meat to caramelize the exterior, make it a little crusty, and seal all the juices – a non-negotiable step in my book. Afterwards, no matter what sauce or glaze you use, it’s always best to let the meatballs finish cooking in them after you sear. There is a sort of two-way street of flavour borrowing that happens when you do this. The meatballs have time to soak up the sauce, and the sauce has a chance to be permeated with the flavour of the meat.
Hungry? Time for some meatballs!
Try these awesome recipes:
Turkey and Corn Meatballs with Red Pepper Sauce
Baked Chicken Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
Or, if you’re feeling a different route other than the traditional red sauce, try this easy recipe for a quick bite.
Mediterranean Spiced MeatballsPrint Recipe
- 1/2 pound of ground lamb
- 1/2 pound of ground beef
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground sumac
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 3 tablespoons of chopped parsley
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon of Harissa
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup of plain breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup of milk
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Mix all of your ingredients in a large mixing bowl (keeping in mind the tips suggested above).
- Roll the meatballs into small meatballs, about an inch in diameter and place onto a greased or non-stick baking sheet.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until browned on the outside.
Serve with hummus, baba ganoush, or a nice yogurt sauce! Or, if you’re like me – eat them like popcorn until guilt from overeating overcomes you like a tidal wave.