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Old 04-18-2014, 01:29 PM   #1
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Meat Balls

My tomato sauce is simmering.
I have some ground chuck (beef).
I want to make meat balls.
I usually use the meat, bread crumbs, minced onion, minced garlic, minced bell pepper, Parmesan cheese, chopped parsley and an egg or two.
I sometimes brown them in a fry pan or in the oven. Sometimes I drop them in raw.

How do you make your Italian style meat balls? Any suggestions to add to my list? A little wine? Water? Stock? Milk?

Do you brown your meat balls? Fry pan? Oven?

Thanks in Advance...........John
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Old 04-18-2014, 01:41 PM   #2
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That's about how I make Italian meat balls too RB, but I always brown them on a rimmed cookie sheet in the oven. Makes sense to me, as they brown evenly without a stove top mess. The only time I drop raw meatballs into a liquid is for Albondgas Mexican soup, or my http://www.discusscooking.com/forums...uce-68709.html
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Old 04-18-2014, 01:46 PM   #3
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Here's the recipe I've been using for years. These meatballs always get rave reviews.

I puree the veggies in a mini FP. I don't like the odd chunk of onion that I missed showing up in the finished meatball.

I always brown them in a skillet before adding them to sauce. Meat gets a lot of its flavor from browning. Think steak or burgers. You don't boil them you brown them over high heat.

3 Tb Olive Oil
1 Small Onion, minced
3 Garlic, minced
1 Lb Ground Beef
1 Lb Ground Veal
½ Lb Ground Pork
1¼ C Bread Crumbs
¾ C Pecorino Romano, grated
2 Tb Italian Parsley, chopped
TT S&P
3 Eggs



Place 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic for 3 minutes or until the onion is translucent. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, thoroughly combine all the ingredients including the cooled onion mixture.

Shape the mixture into balls approximately the size of a large egg. You should end up with 24 meatballs.

Brown the meatballs in the remaining olive oil. Add to Sunday Ragu to complete cooking. Deglaze the pan with some of the sauce and return it to the pot.
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Old 04-18-2014, 01:47 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kayelle View Post
That's about how I make Italian meat balls too RB, but I always brown them on a rimmed cookie sheet in the oven. Makes sense to me, as they brown evenly without a stove top mess. The only time I drop raw meatballs into a liquid is for Albondgas Mexican soup, or my http://www.discusscooking.com/forums...uce-68709.html
Yep, less mess. But I don't get as good a brown on them in the oven, unless I turn them. How high do you bake them off at?

I was also interested in the liquid addition. Like the solution used in sausages? My mother put milk. I have even used a little ketchup before. I like moist meat balls. So, it seems I need something?

Some chefs add wine, but wine can take over, if care is not exercised. There is wine in the sauce though. Very little. Just enough to deglaze with.
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Old 04-18-2014, 01:51 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
Here's the recipe I've been using for years. These meatballs always get rave reviews.

I puree the veggies in a mini FP. I don't like the odd chunk of onion that I missed showing up in the finished meatball.

I always brown them in a skillet before adding them to sauce. Meat gets a lot of its flavor from browning. Think steak or burgers. You don't boil them you brown them over high heat.

3 Tb Olive Oil
1 Small Onion, minced
3 Garlic, minced
1 Lb Ground Beef
1 Lb Ground Veal
½ Lb Ground Pork
1¼ C Bread Crumbs
¾ C Pecorino Romano, grated
2 Tb Italian Parsley, chopped
TT S&P
3 Eggs



Place 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic for 3 minutes or until the onion is translucent. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, thoroughly combine all the ingredients including the cooled onion mixture.

Shape the mixture into balls approximately the size of a large egg. You should end up with 24 meatballs.

Brown the meatballs in the remaining olive oil. Add to Sunday Ragu to complete cooking. Deglaze the pan with some of the sauce and return it to the pot.
Thanks Andy. Looks like the frying pan will get used yet once again today!

I actually like the little pieces of veggie in the meat balls. But I do mince it very well. Very well. In Poppie's voice I say "very well, very well".
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Old 04-18-2014, 01:54 PM   #6
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...I was also interested in the liquid addition. Like the solution used in sausages? My mother put milk. I have even used a little ketchup before. I like moist meat balls. So, it seems I need something?...
Some recipes may need a liquid to maintain moisture. I don't think it has to be a requirement. I think the 3 eggs and pureed veggies in my recipe serve to provide moisture.
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Old 04-18-2014, 01:54 PM   #7
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I bake them at 450 degrees for just a few minutes and they get nice and brown for me without the danger of them falling apart while turning them in a skillet.

Personally, I wouldn't add any more liquid (the egg is liquid) to the mixture lest they don't hold together.
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Old 04-18-2014, 02:06 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Kayelle View Post
I bake them at 450 degrees for just a few minutes and they get nice and brown for me without the danger of them falling apart while turning them in a skillet.

Personally, I wouldn't add any more liquid (the egg is liquid) to the mixture lest they don't hold together.
+1. I just made Greek meatballs for a potluck dinner meeting on Tuesday. I bake them at 400°F for 20 minutes and they're nice and brown. I've been doing it this way for at least 10 years. I hate the splatter from browning them in a pan.

I only used egg for liquid, too. I used 85% ground beef, so there was plenty of moisture.
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Old 04-18-2014, 02:08 PM   #9
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Thanks guys and girls for the suggestions.

Lets see, frying pan vs cookie sheet. So many decisions in life!
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Old 04-18-2014, 02:43 PM   #10
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2 tablespoons olive oil - for frying
2 1/2 pounds ground beef- 80/20 or 85/15
1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage-casing removed
1 onion-finely chopped
3 cloves garlic-minced
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
good size pinch red pepper flakes
1 tsp fennel seeds, toasted
2 slices hearty white sandwich bread-torn into small pieces
1/2 cup milk
2 large eggs-lightly beaten
grated Parmesan cheese -- large handful
parsley, chopped, good palmful


I fry them. These could easily be baked. I like to drop them in a pot of sauce while they are still hot. I think they absorb the tomato sauce better this way. (It's a theory.) I Usually divide into 3 - 4 meal size freezer bags and I prefer the just cooked ones better.
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Old 04-19-2014, 05:06 AM   #11
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I use this recipe, except I sub parmesan for the romano and use fresh oregano to replace 1/2 of the parsely.

Grandma Maronis Meatballs 100 Year Old Recipe Recipe : Food Network
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Old 04-19-2014, 06:51 AM   #12
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I like to add a ladle full of sauce to the meatballs for some extra moisture and flavor.

If you have some dried mushrooms, crush or powder a couple of pieces and add them to the meatballs.

I like to cook my meatballs in the sauce on top of the stove or in the oven. If you do them on top of the stove you can't really stir the sauce for the first fifteen minutes or so until the meatballs have "set", just jiggle or shake the pan a little every few minutes. I also like to do this a day ahead so I can skim any fat that is released by the meatballs.
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Old 04-19-2014, 07:56 AM   #13
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Yep, less mess. But I don't get as good a brown on them in the oven, unless I turn them. How high do you bake them off at?

I was also interested in the liquid addition. Like the solution used in sausages? My mother put milk. I have even used a little ketchup before. I like moist meat balls. So, it seems I need something?

Some chefs add wine, but wine can take over, if care is not exercised. There is wine in the sauce though. Very little. Just enough to deglaze with.
I always add milk. It helps to break down the enzymes in the meat to make them very tender. And it depends on how many I am making. Less than a dozen or so, I sauté them on top of the stove. More that that, into the oven. But I will add a small amount of hot water to the cookie sheet after to get off all those little brown pieces. When baking them, 350ºF. And I turn them over halfway.

When I put them in the oven, I find that they emit less fat. And they have more flavor, because of less fat being lost.

My mother used to soak a couple of pieces of stale bread in the milk. I can still feel those meatballs in my mouth. Tender, and full of flavor.
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Old 04-19-2014, 09:01 AM   #14
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The recipe I use, I got from a Sara Moulton show years ago. I start with a meatloaf/meatball mix of pork, beef and veal. If I can't get that I just use pork and beef. I use fresh bread crumbs soaked with milk. I saute the onions until they are very soft (they usually disappear inside the meatball), and add the fresh garlic at the last minute. The rest is standard meatball stuff. Actually the recipe is pretty standard.

I find that the soaked bread, called a panade keeps the meatballs very moist and soft, so I always do it. I find that fresh bread crumbs give me the best results.
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Old 04-19-2014, 09:34 AM   #15
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... I start with a meatloaf/meatball mix of pork, beef and veal. If I can't get that I just use pork and beef...

I have no chance of consistently getting this meatloaf mix. I just buy a package of each and mix my own. I usually have some pork and veal leftover and that goes into the freezer for another use. Sometimes I just use it to make a meat sauce.
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Old 04-19-2014, 09:56 AM   #16
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Sometimes I can find the three in a single package at my supermarket. Beef, veal and pork. But I will be danged if I buy single packages of each to make meatballs. Just plain ground chuck will do fine for me.

I don't know about other parts of the country, but here veal is almost $10 a pound. I have always considered meatballs an economy dish. A little goes a long way to feed a family.

Then there is chicken and turkey meatballs. I will pass on them.
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Old 04-19-2014, 09:59 AM   #17
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Sometimes I can find the three in a single package at my supermarket. Beef, veal and pork. But I will be danged if I buy single packages of each to make meatballs. Just plain ground chuck will do fine for me.

I don't know about other parts of the country, but here veal is almost $10 a pound. I have always considered meatballs an economy dish. A little goes a long way to feed a family.

Then there is chicken and turkey meatballs. I will pass on them.
I have used ground turkey or ground chicken instead of the veal, to keep the cost down, and nobody seems to notice.
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Old 04-19-2014, 10:15 AM   #18
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Around here veal is expensive too. Unfortunately, so is ground turkey. I guess it's because it is "trendy" 'cause it's low fat.
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Old 04-19-2014, 10:16 AM   #19
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I skip the veal altogether and use about 1/3 pork and 2/3 beef. I think the combination is more flavorful and tender.
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Old 04-19-2014, 11:52 AM   #20
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Update.
Baked off the meat balls at 450f and had to turn them once to get two sides brown. Seams almost a wash vs frying. Less spatter, but a much larger pan to wash. Plus they stuck a little bit. Had to use a metal spatula to release them.
I could have used parchment, but was concerned it would retard browning?

They were great except they could have used a bit more salt. Once again I made meat balls and did not really taste the product before cooking them. Lesson once again learned. My mother always tasted the meat mixture raw. I don't like doing that and I don't like to dirty another pan to test one to see. But I will from now on.

Made garlic bread from crushed garlic cloves, softened butter, chopped flat leaf parsley and a splash of very good EVOO. A compound butter if you will.
Smeared on split Torta rolls.
Served the meatballs and sauce over linguine. Good dinner and was also my lunch for today.
Thanks everyone!

Whiskadoodle. Sounds very interesting with the addition of the Italian sausage.
I see you still add more fennel seeds.
I also am not sure about that much dried oregano? Seems a tablespoon would take over the dish?
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