Monday, January 27, 2014

That's an Easy Meatball!

I'd always been afraid of making meatballs.  Maybe not afraid, like a meatball phobia, but that it seemed like way too much work.  I envisioned forming individual balls by hand, and, painstakingly, turning them over and over in a greasy skillet to try to get the spheres evenly browned all the way 'round.

I expressed that to my Bible study friend, Ch, who said she had a much easier recipe and method for me to try. (Ch was the one who also gave me the wonderful Apple Butter recipe I shared in October.)

These are great, and so simple and fast to make.  No more meatball fear for me.

Ch's Easy Peasy Meatballs 
(my name for them)

Preheat oven to 425.  Spray rimmed baking sheets with Pam or equivalent.

Place in large bowl:

1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork or Italian or other seasoned, bulk sausage
1 egg
1 cup bread crumbs (Ch suggested fresh or Panko.  I use rolled oats/oatmeal)
1 clove garlic, minced (I use garlic powder, 1 tsp)
1 tsp pepper
1 chopped onion or 1 Tbsp dried minced onion
Mix together (hands work best), but don't handle it too much.
Note #1: I watched a TV show called "My Family Recipe Rocks" on which a woman was aghast watching the host, Joey Fatone (formerly of 'N Sync fame), "Bologna ball" the meatballs he was forming for her.  She had told him not to handle them too much and form the balls loosely and quickly.  Instead, he was rolling them around in his hands as he talked, clearly overworking them.  I found out what she meant a couple weeks later, when I decided to mix spices and cheese into some hamburger by putting it in a ZipLoc bag and squishing it around.  "Bologna balling" results in a dense, strangely textured meat, similar in appearance to processed meats, like bologna, that cooks up pretty dry.

To prevent "Bologna balling" in the forming stage for this recipe, I used our cookie dough scoop, as suggested by Ch.  This makes meatballs about 1 1/2" in diameter.

Place them on the baking sheets so that there is 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch in between.  (You don't need to space them like cookies, like I did the first time, since, duh, they don't spread.)  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until cooked through. (Internal temperature about 165 to 170 degrees)

Drain and cool on paper towels and/or cooling racks.  Unless you're eating them right away, of course!

The 6 + 6 pound batch I stirred in front
of the football game.
Of course, in our house, I do not mess around making meatballs with only 1 or 2 pounds of meat!  ;-)  The last time I made these I sextupled the recipe, using 6+ pounds each of ground beef and Italian sausage.  It was a huge amount to stir, so I might stick to 4 to 5 pounds of each, as I did the first time I tried, which worked more easily.

Note #2:  It is important, as I was taught in a class in college about the science of foods, not to multiply the spices at the same rate as you do the rest of the ingredients.  Our professor advised to use only 1 1/2 times the spices when doubling a recipe.  So for 4 times the amount of meat, for example, I'd used only about 3 times the amount of each spice.  This can be varied to your taste on each spice.

6 pounds each of the 2 meats made hundreds of meatballs... at least 550.  

I placed 45 to 50 each in gallon-size ZipLoc bags and spread them flat in the freezer.  They are so easy to grab, a bag at a time or a few at a time, to warm up for a quick spaghetti and meatballs dinner, or a quick meal or snack for a family constantly on the go.  

The biggest problem I have with this recipe is that the kids pick them out of the spaghetti, then no one wants the leftover noodles and sauce!  

Since that's now happened twice, I asked if I should just serve meatballs and sauce from now on.  Prince Inventive said he wants "meatballs, sauce, and about 2 spaghetti noodles, just so we can say we're having 'spaghetti and meatballs.'"

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