Meatballs…Versatility On a Plate!

So, it was Friday, and I realized that I had a really busy weekend and upcoming week! I needed to multi-task! So I made my meatballs! Why not, they’re perfect and logical. I can bring them over to the Easter party, I can throw them in with some pasta (and that can be all pretty with spaghetti and garlic bread, or just whatever I got in the pantry), and I can even do subs. That’s three meals, they keep well in the freezer, I can’t think of a reason why not to, and my meatballs are sooooooooooooooo good! So, here it is, I will do my best to give you the recipe, cause it’s one I sort of concocted in my head from many many other recipes.

Now, if I was doing this for one meal I would only use a pound of meat, yesterday I used two because I knew I needed some for the party (I roll these into smaller bite sized meatballs and use the crock pot, which I will get to later) and some for subs, and some for slop (blog to come later about slop, uses for all the crap in your pantry!). So here is my recipe for one batch, you can easily adjust it for your needs, my measurements aren’t exact, and you can customize it to your tastes, the important part is the method!

Ok, So start with half an onion (I prefer a BIG Spanish or sweet onion), finely chopped. When you’re done with the onion, and done wiping away the tears from your eyes go for the garlic, I really like garlic so I used 4 or 5 really big garlic cloves, or you can get some elephant garlic and use a clove or two of that. Elephant Garlic has a slightly more mild flavor, so if you like the aroma but don’t want all that bite try it! Again mince the garlic very fine (if you’re feeling lazy buy the minced garlic in a jar, I prefer fresh, but not everybody has the time/patience to deal with it). In a large skillet over medium heat, heat up three tablespoons of olive oil. Toss in the onion and garlic. Saute until soft and just starting to color. Now here is my trick, to create a flavor payload add your spices to the onion garlic mixture. I used (and these are rough estimates, adjust to your taste) 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon fresh cracked pepper, 2 teaspoons dried rosemary, oregano, parsley, and 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (again, if you don’t have all that stuff just get some Italian seasoning, McCormick makes a ‘grinder’ version that is pretty good, I actually use it on garlic bread). By bringing all the aromatics together and letting them get all happy in the pan they really have a big impact, and they have plenty of time to mingle and create the flavor you are looking for in the end.

Remove the onion/garlic/herb mixture and let cool for about 10 minutes. In another bowl add your meat. Now I think I said earlier a pound of ground beef, you don’t have to use ground beef, it is just what I prefer. Many people like to use equal parts beef, pork and veal. I personally can’t stand veal or pork, so I don’t use it. But I hear it does give even more of an incredible flavor, so by all means if you like that stuff, do it up!

Add the onion mixture, 1/3 cup of freshly grated Romano (you can use Parmesan too, just don’t use the stuff in the green canister! Invest in a good chunk of Parmesan or Romano and you can grate/shave it over anything at anytime it keeps forever!) and three eggs to the bowl with the meat. Yes, that’s right THREE eggs per pound of meat! Think of this like you are making little Italian meatloaves. This really gives you the texture you want. You don’t want little rocks of beef, you want delicious fluffy herbalicious goodness! With your hands, lets not be prissy here, mix it all really really well. If you are a little grossed out by this get some rubber gloves (like latex gloves but without powder, ick doesn’t taste good in your food!) or this is a great way to get the kids involved! When all the ingredients are really really well mixed add 3/4 cup of breadcrumbs. I like the Italian seasoned ones for a little extra herb kick. Just go for the regular breadcrumbs though, not the panko or anything else, they don’t stand up to the abuse they will endure. Anyway, mix in the breadcrumbs, you want the mixture to be sticky but not wet, so add more breadcrumbs as you see fit. The mixture should be almost dough like. Then you are ready to get rolling!

Break out a big plate, tray or platter to rest the meatballs. You will also need a small bowl full of more of the breadcrumbs. I like to use a small ice cream scoop for this, but feel free to eyeball it. Scoop up a little of the mixture and roll it around in between the palms of you hands gently to form a ball. Then put it in the bowl of breadcrumbs and give it a nice little coating and then place on tray and move on to the next little bundle of yum! Keep going until you have used up all the meat mixture.

In a large frying pan, preferably a deep one (you can use a large pot if you don’t have a deep skillet or frying pan), heat a 1/4 cup of olive oil over medium-high, you may need to add more, you want the olive oil to come at least a quarter of the way up on your meatballs. When the oil is hot, place the meatballs in the pan gently, leave at least an inch between each meatball. You may have to do a couple batches. When  you take out the meatballs that are done just put them back on the tray. Too many meatballs in the pan are bad because they decrease the temperature and they will stick together, the idea here is to create a nice brown crust on the outside of the meatballs. This should only take a few minutes, just rotate them and make sure they brown entirely on the outside and have a nice crust, but not burnt!

After all the meatballs have a nice crust, drain the pan. Then pour in a batch of your favorite red sauce. I prefer the basic marinara sauce from GiadaDeLaurentis , but regular Prego is really good to when you are in a pinch, in fact I like it better than almost all the other fancy jars out there. Place the meatballs back into the sauce and bring the sauce to a simmer, allow to simmer for at least half an hour. At that point I usually check by taking out one meatball and cutting it in half, it its is no longer pink they are good to go. I like to let them simmer a little longer if I can to let the flavors really meld. You can also do this step in a crock pot on low heat for an hour and then adjust to warm and allow to sit until ready to serve or store.

You are now ready to serve! The best part! On top of pasta, all by their lonesome (actually this is really good with some freshly grated Romano cheese on top for an appetizer course, it’ s called polpette) or on a sub. For a sub get some sub rolls of your liking (I like to get the garlic ciabatta bread from Market Basket and cut in half for two large subs) and place a couple of pieces of provolone on them and toast for a few minutes under the broiler so the cheese starts to melt, then top with meatballs and more Romano cheese! Delish!! Store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to a week, longer than that I suggest freezing them. For reheating purposes I highly recommend doing it over low to medium heat on the stovetop. Bon Appetit!!

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