I don't have a go-to recipe for meatballs. I know how to get the texture and flavor I'm trying to achieve and change herbs, spices, chopped veggies, etc. for what I'm trying to achieve. Sometimes I need classic "Italian style meatballs as described by the op. But sometimes the meatballs need to have a Southwestern flavor, or Asian twist. Also, the meats change. I usually use a combination of beef and pork. Chicken meatballs are great with good noodles or rice and a home made sweet and sour sauce.
My favorite to use with tomato sauce includes ground beef, Chudagi Sausage from one particular store in my town, chopped onion, basil, oregano, minced garlic, bread crumbs, a bit of milk, salt, and grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese.
After combining the ingredients, I take a pinch of the meatball mixture and fry it as a flat, quarter sized patty, to test the seasoning and texture, and adjust as required.
I've cooked meatballs by multiple techniques, each giving a little bit different result, all of them good. These include:
1. Place as many meatballs as will fit in a lightly oiled large CI pan, add a half cup of water, cover, and steam until firm. Let the water evaporate, then brown. Add to sauce or recipe.
2. Place meatballs on a large, parchment covered cookie sheet (jelly roll sheet), and pop into a 400' oven until browned. Add to recipe as needed.
3. Pan fry in a couple inches of hot oil until lightly browned and cooked through.
4. Simmer/braise in sauce.
5. Consume someone else's meatballs and forget cooking for a night.
One caveat, I really don't like store-bought meatballs. At almost every pot luck at work, someone purchases a bag of pre-made meatballs, throws barbecue sauce, or store-bought beef gravy, and serves it up in a slow cooker.
There are just some people out there with no creativity whatsoever, or who are too lazy to make something good. It drives me crazy. When bringing something to a pot luck, or cooking for company, I always prepare my food the best way I know how, to honor those who are going to eat it. Sadly, there are many who don't. These are the same people who insist on pronouncing tortilla as tor-till-a, and Queso dip as Kon-kway-so dip, which translated means - "with cheese" dip. But they can give you every restaurant in town that serves very large, sub-standard plates of whatever. They are more interested in cheap, and convenient, and think of Applebee's as gourmet food
, cooked by highly trained chefs.
Ok, I'm done.
Back to meatballs, as with everything I make, I like to change up the recipes. I love wondrous variety, and encourage everyone to experiment, and create things unique and delicious.
For instance, try this meatball recipe and serve with a good rice pilaf, or noodles with sweet and sour sauce:
Chief's Chicken Meatballs
1 large chicken breast
2 large chicken thighs
3 stalks celery
1 clove garlic
1 tsp. onion powder
1 medium egg, lightly beaten
Skin and remove the chicken from the bones and either mince in food processor, or run through a meat grinder. Mince the garlic and add with the onion powder to the meat. Finely chop the celery and add it to the chicken with the remaining ingredients. Mix well.
The trick to these meatballs is egg. Lacking sufficient fat to hold them together, the protein rich egg white coats each morsel of meat, acting like the fat in a hamburger. It binds them.
Shape into 1 inch meatballs and gently sauté until lightly browned on all sides. Serve with Pineapple Sweet & Sour Sauce, white rice and butter, and with steamed carrots. Arrange artistically on dark plates and serve with pineapple sweet and sour sauce.
Makes approximately 24 meatballs.
Pineapple Sweet & Sour Sauce
This syrup based sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated. It compliments egg rolls, chicken stir fries, won tons, etc. It can also be used with ham and pastas.
2 cups chicken broth (water can be used if no broth is available)
1/4 tsp. ginger
1 tbs. onion powder or 1/4 onion finely chopped
2 cloves crushed garlic
16 oz. can crushed or chunk pineapple (substitute cup lemon juice if used for seafood)
cup firmly packed brown sugar (substitute cup white granulated sugar if lemon juice is used)
1/8 cup balsamic, or apple cider vinegar
1/4 chopped sweet pepper (optional but omit if lemon juice is used)
2 tbs. cornstarch mixed with 4 oz. water
Seeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North