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Meatballs


Dave the Cook
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I've got 20 ounces of ground pork butt, the same amount of ground veal shoulder, and 2-1/2 pounds of ground chuck. I bought this stuff to make meatloaf, but I couldn't talk the guy into fresh-grinding half-pounds of meat. By my calculations (always suspect, of course), that's enough to make about 3 pains de viande. I don't need this much meatloaf anytime soon, and I hate freezing raw ground meat. No problem: I'd make meatballs.

So there I was, halfway up arms in ungulate ooze, when it occurred to me that I didn't really know what I was doing. I've always used the basic meatlof mix (meat, starchy binder, an egg, seasoning) and gave it a nudge towards Italian (or Italian-American) with extra parsley, garlic, oregano and basil; sometimes a little fennel seed. But I don't have a set recipe, which is kind of unusual for me.

Easy enough, I figured. I'll check into eGullet, grab a few recipes, synthesize them into something that sounds good, and go from there.

Lo and behold, there is no meatball thread, at least not by that name.

Now there is. Let's hear it: meat proportions, binding preferences, seasoning, browning method, simmer or not, and in what?

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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I have found that just abouty anything works as long as there is enough fat in the mix to make sure they are juicy.

I make all kinds of meatballs (and I portion them with a disher which is faster and requires less handling which also makes them more tender)

This is the basic recipe:

1 lb ground beef, 72/27 is the best for this recipe

1 lb. ground pork

1 lb. ground lamb or veal

2 medium yellow onions, finely minced

8 cloves of garlic, mashed and minced

1 TBS red pepper flakes

2 TBS Worchestershire sauce

1 cup or 8 ounces seeded and pureed tomato (or a can of tomato sauce if you must)

Salt and pepper for seasoning

3 large whole eggs, lightly beaten

2/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs

1/2 cup milk, poured into the breadcrumbs and allowed to soak in before adding to the mixture.

I brown them well in fat, then add two cups of beef or veal stock and simmer them, moving them about fairly often so they don't stick

Oooops.

I forgot to add that if the meats are very lean, I add 4 to 6 ounces of ground pork fat or beef suet, depending on what I have on hand, or in a pinch butter. It works too.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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The previous recipe can be altered to fit any flavor you want.

barbecue sauce -

teriyaki sauce and a half cup of crushed pineapple and some sweet chile sauce plus another third of a cup of bread crumbs for the extra moisture makes these a "Hawaiian" meatball.

Mexican seasonings, hot peppers, toasted cumin and etc. makes them Mexican.

Masala seasonings (or if you must, some curry paste,never, never, never curry powder) gives a sort of Indian flavor.

Omit the tomato sauce and add sour cream and dill for a northern Europe flavor,

And so on.....

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Meatballs...these are good for serving with spagetti in a tomato sauce or in a hero...

Ground pork, veal, beef

Breadcrumbs (preferably from fresh bread but dry in a pinch)

Milk to soak the crumbs in

Eggs

Minced garlic

Minced parsley

Dry oregano, thyme, and basil

Grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and Pepper

Blend, form, and either bake in 350 degree oven for 25 minutes then use as desired or freeze raw on baking sheet then put into freezer bags for future use.

A splash of red or white wine could be added to this recipe if you like, too.

..................................................

All that ground meat would also make a nice chili...that freezes well too!

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Another one...this time from Arthur Schwartz' "Soup Suppers":

Armenian Meatball Soup

.........................................

2 medium onions, finely chopped

3 T butter

2 C canned tomato puree

5 C water

1 # lean ground beef

6 T finely chopped fresh dill

1 egg

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. finely ground black pepper

1 medium green pepper, diced

2 medium potatoes, cut into 1/2" cubes

1/2 C uncooked white rice

1. Saute the onions over medium heat till lightly browned.

2. Add the tomato puree and water. Increase heat, simmer uncovered 10 minutes.

3. Work together meat, 2T dill, egg, S&P. Shape into 1" balls.

4. Drop meatballs into simmering soup, then add green pepper, potatoes and rice. Cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes.

5. Serve immediately in flat bowls with remaining dill as garnish.

This is a better recipe than you might think from reading the ingredients! I often add some lentils at the same time as the veggies/rice, and this makes it even better....

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Danish meat balls (Frikadeller)

1/2 lb ground beef

1/2 lb ground pork

1 tsp kosher salt

1 medium sized onion very finely minced

2 eggs, beaten

1 T flour

3 T breadcrumbs (fresh)

1/2 cup 35% cream or more if needed

1/2 t freshly ground pepper

1/2-3/4 cup good beef stock (if you don't have GOOD beefstock, use more cream of, if you must, a mix of cream and soda water)

Knead together the two ground meats, the onion and the salt until thoroughly combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Add the remaining ingredients and beat with a wooden spoon until you think your arm will surely drop off. Rest for an hour - that's you and the mixture!

Heat some butter in a large saute pan until it just turns brown. Carefully place fairly large "balls" made from the mixture into the hot butter. They will barely hold their shape and that is as it should be. Cook until brown and crisp on one side, turn and cook the other side. Serve hot with Danish red cabbage or cucumber salad or pickled beets. Serve them cold, thinly sliced, with the same accompaniments.

The hot and cold versions are both delicious but so different! We love them both ways and always make enough to have them cold the next day.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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I don't follow a recipe. I use ground pork or sometimes ground pork and ground turkey together (my spouse doesn't eat beef, which is why I don't use it). Usually I combine the meat with lots of brunoised onions, pasted-down fresh garlic, an egg, a splash of worcestershire, chopped parsley, s, p, and whatever herbs complement the intended meal. Hand-roll into 2" meatballs. Pan-fry, turning often. When fully cooked, toss into whatever sauce I'm using and keep warm until dinnertime.

My roommate likes to bake meatballs on a cookie sheet. This makes for a tasty but less-juicy (and lower-fat) meatball, IMO.

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2 lb Ground Turkey (I prefer mixed, not white) or other ground meat

2 eggs

1 cup grated parmesean (use block and food processor) or grated Romano

4 Tb Oregano

1 Tb Worcestershire

1 Head Garlic

1/2 cup bread crumbs or more as necessary

4 TB good balsamic

1 TS red pepper flakes

Tomato sauce

Chop and fry garlic until medium brown in about 3 TB olive oil

Add the garlic and olive oil to the meat

Add everything else. Stir ( with your hands ) until everything is integrated.

Add olive oil to frying pan (about 1/2 inch deep of oil) Roll the meatballs and carefully put them in the pan. Brown them on all sides.

Add the meatballs to a deep pan and add tomato sauce on top. Cook the meatballs @ 350 for 30 minutes.

Never trust a skinny chef

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For the binder, I like to soak a couple slices of crustless white bread in milk (spongy stuff works best here), sqeeze, and chop down to a homogenous paste. It really helps with moistness, and contributes another soft, tender texture rather than the graininess that too-dry breadcrumbs or the glueyness that overmoistened ones sometimes give.

Oven or pan brown, just to get color on them, and then finish simmering in the sauce. It makes for a greasier sauce, but I think it turns spaghetti-and-meatballs into a cohesive thing rather than meatballs-sitting on-top-of-spaghetti.

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I have made these from Mario Batali, and they are great! Definitely use an ice cream or cookie dough scoop to portion them evenly. Oh, and as for the bread, use a good, day-or-two old Italian bread.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Italian Meatballs

Recipe By :Mario Batali

Serving Size : 6 Preparation Time :0:00

Categories : Entrees - Beef Italian

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ --------------------------------

3 cups day-old bread cut into 1-inch cubes

3/4 pound ground pork

1/4 pound ground beef

3 whole eggs -- beaten

3 cloves garlic -- minced

3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1 bunch Italian parsley -- finely chopped to yield 1/4 cup

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a shallow bowl, soak the bread cubes in enough water to cover. Remove the bread cubes and squeeze by hand to remove excess moisture.

In a large bowl, combine the bread, pork, beef, eggs, garlic, Parmigiano, parsley, salt, and pepper and mix by hand to incorporate bread into meat. With wet hands, form the mixture into 25 to 28 meatballs, each about golf ball size.

In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the oil until almost smoking. Add the meatballs. Working in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pan, and cook until deep golden bron on all sides, about 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels to remove excess oil.

Source:

"http://www.foodtv.com"

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I have made these from Mario Batali, and they are great! Definitely use an ice cream or cookie dough scoop to portion them evenly. Oh, and as for the bread, use a good, day-or-two old Italian bread.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Italian Meatballs

Recipe By :Mario Batali

Serving Size : 6 Preparation Time :0:00

Categories : Entrees - Beef Italian

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ --------------------------------

3 cups day-old bread cut into 1-inch cubes

3/4 pound ground pork

1/4 pound ground beef

3 whole eggs -- beaten

3 cloves garlic -- minced

3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1 bunch Italian parsley -- finely chopped to yield 1/4 cup

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a shallow bowl, soak the bread cubes in enough water to cover. Remove the bread cubes and squeeze by hand to remove excess moisture.

In a large bowl, combine the bread, pork, beef, eggs, garlic, Parmigiano, parsley, salt, and pepper and mix by hand to incorporate bread into meat. With wet hands, form the mixture into 25 to 28 meatballs, each about golf ball size.

In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the oil until almost smoking. Add the meatballs. Working in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pan, and cook until deep golden brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels to remove excess oil.

Source:

"http://www.foodtv.com"

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My favorite meatball recipe, which isn't going to help Dave at all, is from The Italian Country Table by Lynne Rosetto Kasper. They're made with chicken thighs, spinach, almonds, lemon zest, breadcrumbs, and a whole bunch of other things, and served with a sweet and sour sauce (agrodolce). They're unusual and delicious.

The most common error I see with traditional pork/beef/veal meatballs is not enough filler. At that point it's like biting into an overcooked hamburger. Here in Seattle, a new sandwich place called Baguette Box is serving a fantastic meatball sub that gets the texture exactly right. I'd somehow convinced myself that any meatball sub was as good as any other until this sandwich reminded me how wrong I was.

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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My roommate likes to bake meatballs on a cookie sheet. This makes for a tasty but less-juicy (and lower-fat) meatball, IMO.

What a great thread, especially as I'm making meatballs tonight, in a formula similar to Carrot Top's.

After an embarrassingly long life loving and making meatballs, I've come around to the "Bake on a Sheetpan" method. Just toss them around with a spatula occasionally, and make a whole bunch. Drop them into the sauce for that underappreciated staple of my girlhood suppers -- Spaghetti and Meatball Night was as bliss to me and my siblings-- then freeze the remainder for whatever clever purposes you can conjure. Meatball sandwiches? A simmer in sweet and sour sauce, with the obligatory toothpick garnish? Or lovely meaty orbs ready to plunk into your next batch of sauce.

And of course, fat splattering in a self-cleaning oven is preferable to fat splattering all over the cooktop.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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  • 4 years later...

I'm resurrecting this topic to ask a very simple question: I bought too much ground veal and ground beef and plan to make meatballs with the leftovers and freeze some of them. Should I freeze them raw, partly cooked or completely cooked?

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I freeze completely cooked meatballs all the time. Indeed, during the colder months of the year, it would be very unusual not to find between two and six plastic takeout containers of frozen meatballs in our freezer.

My procedure is to freeze the meatballs together with their sauce. To reheat I do 10 minutes on defrost in the microwave -- this gets them from frozen solid to merely cold -- then transfer everything to a covered pot on the stovetop and do the actual heating over low-medium heat. The only thing I'd suggest is that there is some moisture loss in the freezing and reheating process, so make the sauce a little thinner and in a greater quantity than usual, so by the time it's all done you'll be at normal.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I'm resurrecting this topic to ask a very simple question: I bought too much ground veal and ground beef and plan to make meatballs with the leftovers and freeze some of them. Should I freeze them raw, partly cooked or completely cooked?

I try to always have frozen home-made meatballs in the freezer. I cook them, let them cool, spread on parchment-lined sheetpan, freeze for an hour or two then scoop into a plastic bag and vacuum seal. When ready to use I prepare a sauce and re-heat them gently in the sauce.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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I finally prepared, cooked and froze my meatballs yesterday. I am very pleased with the result.

The main ingredients were ground beef and veal, breadcrumbs (2/3 of them soaked in milk), cooked thinly chopped onion and celery, eggs and chicken fat and drippings (from a chicken I cooked previously). The other flavouring ingredients: garlic, sage, chive, parsley, anchovies, paprika, ground coriander seeds, salt, black pepper, and, for a lack of cayenne pepper, I also added chipotle chili flakes.

Tomato sauce is an obvious choice to turn these meatball into a meal, particularly with a bit of pasta, rice or other grains. Any other interesting options?

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Another meatball-freezer here: let them cool on the pan (see below) and then into a FoodSaver bag with them.

Like Maggie, I also now cook my meatballs on large, thick sheet pans in a very hot oven instead of on the stove. No oil, easy clean-up.

My biggest meatball challenge is making sure that I've combined everything effectively without turning the meat into rubber balls from overwork.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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So, does everyone fry up a little meatball to check on the seasonings before making the entire batch?

A nice addition, and moves you towards Sicily, are pine nuts and raisins. In that case, I stick to the meats, a bit of sauteed onion and garlic, chopped parsley, bread, milk and eggs.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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My biggest meatball challenge is making sure that I've combined everything effectively without turning the meat into rubber balls from overwork.

That's interesting, I do exactly the opposite as I consider meatballs to be in the sausage family. I mix everything very well when cold to create some sort of meat/fat emulsion. With plenty of bread crumbs soaked in milk and a bit of added fat and moisture, my meatballs are very soft.

I also cook them on sheet pans in the oven.

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So, does everyone fry up a little meatball to check on the seasonings before making the entire batch?

Yep -- or stick it on a plate and toss it in the microwave for a few seconds.

My biggest meatball challenge is making sure that I've combined everything effectively without turning the meat into rubber balls from overwork.

That's interesting, I do exactly the opposite as I consider meatballs to be in the sausage family. I mix everything very well when cold to create some sort of meat/fat emulsion.

Not sure it's the opposite, just another point in the middle somewhere. I want the emulsion but not something the consistency of kielbasa.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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