Meatballs – there are just so many ways to enjoy them. Red Sauce, Swedish Style, on top of sandwiches and pasta, meatballs made of chicken and on and on. Today we are going traditional. Italian meatballs – or at least my take on Italian meatballs.
Ideally you can get some meatball mix from your grocery store or butcher – this is a blend of beef and pork and sometimes will have a little veal in there too. It’s perfect for me because it usually is just a pound and if you wanted to make your own mix, you would have to buy a pound each of pork, beef and veal. (Honestly I would leave the veal out if I was making my own blend, just pork and beef for me) Even still that would make way too many meatballs, and I’m not a huge fan of freezing things, so I just try and get the meatball mix.
Today was not my day because there was none to be found. No big deal, I got a pound of ground beef and was ready to go. It’s a good idea to get in the habit of being semi flexible when you are cooking. If you are dead set on a certain thing, not being able to find it can be infuriating. Think of what you might be able to substitute. In this case, using only ground beef instead of the meatball mix was an easy fix.
In a bowl combine the following things: 3/4 cup of bread crumbs (whatever you have – plain, italian, seasoned) 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon of oregano or parsley. (I didn’t have oregano, forgot to get it at the store)1 teaspoon of salt, 1 clove of crushed garlic, 2 eggs, 1 pound of ground beef or meatball mix.
When it comes to making perfect round meatballs, an ice cream scoop is your friend. I like a 1 oz scoop. It will make about 14 – 15 meatballs. Set the formed meatballs on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with non stick spray. Just before you start scooping the meatballs, it is a good idea to turn on the broiler in your oven.
Once the meatballs have been all formed and are on the baking sheet, put the in the oven under the broiler to brown. For me this took about 7 minutes, stay close by and keep watch, I feel like you could safely set a timer for 5 minutes and start checking after that. After the meatballs have browned, take them and transfer to a Dutch oven. Add 1 quart of red sauce to your meatballs. I used Prego, if you have some canned tomato sauce now is a great time to use it. Turn the heat on to medium and bring the meatballs and red sauce to a simmer.
After you have reached the simmering stage, put the top on the Dutch oven and turn the heat to low. You are going to let this simmer on the stove top for at least 3 hours or as many as 8 depending on your hurry. Check occasionally to make sure that nothing is burning on the bottom. This recipe could also easily be completed in a crock pot or another type of slow cooker.
When the meatballs have simmered long enough, I like to serve them over pasta. Add a lot of Parmesan cheese, and if you really want to make the plate look nice sprinkle a little bit of dried parsley around the rim. Garlic bread would put this over the top, but I did NOT do it! I had to restrain myself!