Monday, August 13, 2012

Mama Mia, That's a Spicy Meatball!

Remember the old Alka-Selzer commercial? That's really dating us, isn't it?!

I wouldn't say my meatballs are spicy but they are darn good. A couple of you asked about the recipe, and it's really the same as my meatloaf recipe that I "published" a few years ago HERE. In my father's Italian family, it was the basic "go to" recipe for just about everything. Peppers were stuffed with the same thing, as were cabbage rolls, except sometimes we replaced the breadcrumbs with cooked white rice. Even my grandmother's hamburgers were made with this recipe--something she called "paupiettes" although an internet search doesn't turn up quite the same thing as the version she made, which was just this meat mixture shaped into a patty and cooked in a skillet.

First of all, gather this stuff together:

And just in case my superior photography isn't quite what one would wish, here it is in plain English [SEE NOTES BELOW TO ADJUST AMOUNTS FOR MEATBALLS]:

2.5 to 3 pounds of ground beef--lean is good.

2.5 to 3 cups bread crumbs, fresh (just toss a few slices of bread in the food processor)

1 cup Parmesan cheese. Oddly enough, the cheese that makes for the tastiest meatloaf is the old green container of Kraft Parmesan. It's pretty rare that I have that though, so we'll go with the semi-fancy-schmancy shredded Parmesan.

2 bunches of green onion. Cut off the root tips and about half way up the green stems and give them a whirl or two in the food processor, along with--

1 bunch of parsley. (Remove the stems first and wash before adding it to the green onions.)

You will also need a can of tomato sauce. 16 ounce or so, but I only had a BIG can, so I didn't use it all. [FOR MEATBALLS, OMIT THE TOMATO SAUCE--YOU'LL HAVE A POT OF SPAGHETTI SAUCE INSTEAD.] And here's something that didn't show up in time for its photo--milk.

Then, here's the process. In a large bowl, mix the beef, bread crumbs, cheese, and green stuff. Add in some milk. It's hard to say exactly how much milk, but you want that meat mixture to be kind of mushy gooshy. Much softer than Playdoh. Use your hands--you want it to ooze through your fingers when you squeeze, but if you use too much, it won't really stay together in a loaf. I just pour some milk in without measuring, but I'm guessing it's probably somewhere between 1/2 cup and 3/4 cup. Maybe. But here's what it looks like:

Okay, so this is where we move from the meatloaf recipe to the meatball recipe. And I should also mention that 2-1/2 to 3 pounds of meat is probably more than you need for meatballs so you can cut that back about a third and use 2 pounds and cut back on the bread crumbs too to maybe 1-1/2 cups, but leave everything else the same. This is enough to make meatballs for a large pot of sauce; you can cut that in half if you're making a small pot. And if you have leftover meat, make a small meatloaf!

When I make meatballs, I don't make a meat spaghetti sauce, because invariably, a few of the meatballs will break down and it will become meat sauce anyway, but the key to not breaking up the meatballs is to not really stir the sauce until the meatballs are cooked or nearly so--about a half hour to 45 minutes. So you'll want to make your sauce and simmer it until it's getting close to done before you add the meatballs, and then turn the heat to a temperature low enough to not burn the sauce on the bottom of the pot.

Just roll the meat into balls about 1-1/2" in diameter and drop them one by one into the hot sauce. Don't stir. What I'll usually do is pick up the pot and jiggle it back and forth, side to side, until the meatballs sink a bit and are covered with the sauce. Altogether, I let the meatballs cook for about 45 minutes to an hour in a covered pot. If you need to stir, be very gentle. The difference between pre-browning meatballs and this method is that these are more tender without a crust on the outside, so they don't hold together quite as well but I think they do absorb a little more flavor from the sauce and vice versa. Since I use a lean hamburger, I don't find they release very much grease into the sauce either.

Buon Appetito!


Nonnie said...

Thank you Kim I cannot wait to try this. I make alot of stuff cabbage for my family. THis will be a new one. I will let you knowWe also have alot of meatball subs/grinders
Thanks again

Marla said...

Thanks for the recipe Kim and the time and effort it took to put it in your blog. I want to try this soon!Looks so good!

Nancy, Near Philadelphia said...

Many thanks.

Gran - Knot-y Embroidery Lady said...

I have to try this while C is home. It looks sooooo good. Thank you for sharing!!!!!