Sunday, January 1, 2012

Rustic Meatballs

Sunday, January 1, 2012

I love meatballs. My grandmother, who wasn't Italian, used to make some really great meatballs. Unfortunately she passed away and I never got the recipe. I have attempted to duplicate her recipe and I think they came out pretty close.   I'm calling them "rustic" meatballs because of the rough chops of the garlic and onions, and also because they're not perfectly uniform and round.  I set out to make them this way  - so they not only match the texture and flavor of the meatballs she used to make .. but they match in appearance as well.   Full recipe posted below.

The meatballs are surprisingly easy to prepare -- basically just throw everything into a bowl and mix with your hands - sometimes it can be kind of fun to get your hands dirty.

The cast of characters includes ground beef, pork, and veal. To that I added some seasonings (salt, pepper, parsley, and Italian seasoning), some bread crumbs, and a rough chop of garlic.   I used eggs and a bit of milk as the liquid ingredients.

Note, I didn't forget the onions - they're a key ingredient in these meatballs!  I was afraid the onions would not get soft enough if I added them raw, so I rough chopped them and I sauteed them for a bit to soften them up.  Once they were softened up, I let them cool for a bit in the fridge before I added them to the meatball mixture.

Once the onions are cooled, add them to the meatball mixture and get your hands in there and mix, mix, mix!
Work all the ingredients together until it resembles this:

You'll note that the onions don't seem to be mixed that well and, well, you're right. I may have used a bit too many onions but I wanted to ensure that each meatball had some onion-y goodness in it. It's okay if not all the onions get incorporated into the mixture.

Next -- get out a pan and heat it up to medium (I used the same pan that I sauteed the onions in).   Start rolling the meatballs and adding them to the pan. Note: do not over fill the pan, you'll need room to maneuver and flip the meatballs to get them browned on all sides.

I average about 12-13 meatballs in the frying pan and I have a decently big frying pan.   Turn each meatball around so that each side gets browned.

Take them out when they are done and repeat until all the remaining meatballs are browned.

Now your options are to either throw them into a crock pot filled with sauce and cook until they are done, or you can bake them in the oven for about 30 minutes.  If you really want to go nuts, make your own sauce and let the meatballs cook and simmer in there.

Ingredients - Yield 40 "medium" sized meatballs

1.5 pounds ground beef (85% fat)
.75 pound ground pork
.75 pound ground veal
3 large eggs
6-8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
2 tbsp parsley
2 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 cups bread crumbs (I used Italian seasoned crumbs)
1/4 cup milk

Crock pot method - you'll need 3 jars of sauce. I use a mixture of tomato/basil and marinara.


If baking the meatballs, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
If using a crock pot, add 3 jars of sauce to a crock pot and turn it on high.

Saute the onions until soft, cool and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the meat, eggs, bread crumbs, parsley, Italian seasoning, garlic, milk, salt, and pepper.  Mix it all together with your hands. Get dirty!    Add in the cooled onions and mix some more.

Form into balls 1.5-2" in diameter and add to a frying pan.  Brown on all sides, and then remove from pan.  Repeat until all meat mixture is used up and you have browned all the meatballs.

If using a crock pot, simply place the meatballs into the sauce and keep in on high until the meatballs are cooked through - approximately 3 hours.

If baking, add to preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. (less time if you're making smaller meatballs, longer if you are making larger meatballs).

That's it, Enjoy!

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Aimee Keenan-Greene said...

These look delicious!!

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