Meatballs Made Easier

food-026Other than vegetarians, I’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t love meatballs.  Whether they are  the tiny cocktail variety, the medium-sized Swedish style, or great big Italian ones, meatballs have universal appeal.

I personally love all types of meatballs…but my favorites are the ones my family always made.  Big and tender, they are the perfect accompaniment to pasta of any shape and a big pot of “gravy” ( that’s slang for tomato sauce). 

My great Aunt Nellie made fantastic meatballs and never would divulge her secret.  My mother figured out that the key was in the breadcrumbs…. by adding a little extra, the meatballs were nice and soft.  Too little and they became big, heavy rocks. 

Everyone in my family, as was the tradition, would first fry the meatballs in olive oil, then add them to the sauce to simmer away and finish cooking.  One day when I was making meatballs, I didn’t feel like standing over a pan and frying them (and messing up my nice clean stovetop).  I decided to bake them instead, which proved to be not only a good method of cooking, but allowed me to walk away and do something else as they baked.   The results were really good, and less greasy than frying. 

It is okay to mess with tradition a little if you are making your life easier! 

Oven Meatballsfood-007
Makes 10-12  large meatballs

2 lbs of ground beef (or a combination of beef, veal, and pork)

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup dried bread crumbs–1/2 cup more if you like softer meatballs (Italian flavored)
1 small onion, finely diced or grated on a box grater
2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4-1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 T fresh parsley, minced (or 3 t dried)
Preheat oven to 375.

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together with your hands. Be sure everything is evenly distributed.  Form into meatballs, about a handful for each one (about the size of a tennis ball).

Place in a baking dish (don’t crowd them!) and bake for about 30 minutes, or until cooked almost all the way through.

Add cooked  meatballs to a pot of your favorite tomato sauce, and allow to gently simmer until cooked all the way through and the flavor of the meat has permeated the sauce–at least 30 minutes.

Click here for more information about Tracy’s Connecticut cooking classes, or to read her The Secret Ingredient Blog.

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3 Responses to “Meatballs Made Easier”

  1. paula Says:

    thanks for the tip! i will try this as i don’t like to fry meatballs either!! it is
    messy, takes too long, and requires constant attention. and then i always blot them w/paper towels to reduce the fats. is there a better mousetrap? i will
    check it out.

  2. Mike Says:

    My mom always did meatballs in the oven, so I never even knew about frying! The recipe I typically use includes a little bit of milk, but this recipe is a lot dryer with more breadcrumbs. I’m wondering if you find it better to use fattier ground beef? I had pretty lean beef and the meatballs turned out pretty well. I especially like grating the onion instead of chopping. That’s a great tip.

  3. Tracy Says:

    I often put a little milk in my meatloaf, so it definitely can be added to meatballs as well with good results. I tend to use ground beef with no more than 15% fat (I like 90% lean best). If you do use fattier beef, you may need to drain them off a bit before putting them into your sauce. Otherwise it could make your sauce a little on the greasy side.

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