Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Meatballs: A method, not a recipe

I learned how to make meatballs on my own one day.  I didn't look at a cookbook or delve into my inner memories and gather wisdom given to me by a grandma long ago, I just mixed some ingredients together.  It tasted really great, so I did it again and again.  Each time I make meatballs it's a little different.  I don't measure, I just eyeball ingredients and know when I have enough by feel.  I'm telling you this as a reason (excuse) for why I don't have a recipe for this.  Someday I will measure and write down what I do, but for now I'll give you a basic idea of how I make meatballs.

First, I make breadcrumbs; I don't see the point in buying pre-made breadcrumbs, but if you do, then use those.  These could be fresh breadcrumbs or dry.  I made fresh breadcrumbs today because I had part of a sourdough loaf in my breadbox that I was worried about finishing.  I cut off a hunk and put it in my food processor.  I've used wheat, white, rye, and sourdough bread; anything that's not sweet would be fine.  The breadcrumbs go into a small bowl.

Next, I put onion, herbs, and garlic into the processor.  These items get ground and olive oil is streamed in until the consistency is about that of a pesto.  Today I used half a red onion, the leaves from 5 rosemary sprigs, 6 sage leaves, a handful of flat leaf parsley, and 4 garlic cloves.  I add basil to this often, but I didn't have any today.

Then, I put two pounds of ground beef in a bowl and added salt and pepper.  After the salt and pepper was mixed into the beef, I incorporated the herb/oil mixture.  I really think the best way to mix everything together is with your hands, but if you feel uncomfortable about this you could use a spoon.  Then I added the breadcrumbs.  I add a little at a time and mix until the mixture will hold together in a ball.  It should be moist, but not wet.

After everything is mixed, I roll walnut sized meatballs.  Then put onto cookie sheets and bake at 350F for 20 minutes.  The meatballs can now be added to pasta sauce or cooled and placed in plastic bags for freezing.  If you freeze the meatballs they can be reheated right in a pasta sauce.

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