Monday, July 1, 2013

A Totally Non-Summer Meal

I know that meatballs and marinara don't exactly scream summer, but when you get a craving you have to roll with it, right? Over the last few weeks I've wanted a big Italian dinner, and finally I decided to make one at home.

The thing about meatballs is the texture. Or maybe the flavor. Or how well they work with a fantastic marinara. I guess meatballs just rock. Oh, and the variety of ways to eat them! Spaghetti and meatballs--the obvious choice--make fantastic comfort food. Meatball appetizers on a toothpick and dipped in some sort of sauce makes a delightful cocktail hour. Meatball subs bring me joy. Messy, spectacular joy.

So despite the timing and summer heat, here's a meatball recipe. You can file it away for winter.

Assemble your ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound ground meat (I recommend grass fed beef, but you can use chicken, bison, turkey, whatever)
  • 4-6 ounces hot Italian pork sausage
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used Italian herb bread crumbs, but you can use plain or make your own)
  • 1 1/2 ounces milk
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sprinkle of red pepper flakes (1/4 teaspoon)

Next up: Combine the breadcrumbs and milk in a small bowl. Let them hang out together for about 30 minutes. (<--I'm not actually sure why you're supposed to do this, but it was it every recipe I researched, so I didn't question it.)

Once the breadcrumbs are ready, mix up all the ingredients. Just use your hands--it's easier. Then heat a large pan over medium-to-medium-high heat with about a tablespoon of olive oil. Once it's warmed, roll one meatball at a time into about a 1 1/2-inch diameter (of course, you can make the meatballs whatever size you want, but you'll need to adjust cooking times if they're significantly smaller or larger). 

Your goal here is to get the meatballs browned all the way around. Flip them around using tongs or a wooden spoon. I made mine in two big batches (about 12-15 meatballs per batch). Don't worry if they lose their perfectly round shape--no one will care what they look like when they're covered in sauce and taste delicious.

As the balls cook on the stove, heat up the oven to 350 degrees. Throw the browned meatballs into a deep dish, cover with foil, and cook in the oven for about 20 minutes. 

At this point, you can store them for later or create your favorite meatball dish! I threw mine on a cooling rack to cool, stored them for a day, then made spaghetti and meatballs.

With wine

See what I mean about not caring what they look like?

Phenomenally messy.

What's your weird summer craving? I also crave hot soup, like tomato bisque. 

1 comment:

  1. Soaking the breadcrumbs in milk most likely serves to make your meatballs less hard and dense. Our Italian family secret (I think other Italian families do the same) is that instead of bread crumbs, you actually use day-old Italian bread. You want it to be sort of hard, and you dip the bread in luke-warm water. Then you squeeze the excess water out, remove the crust, and break the soggy bread into small pieces into your meat mixture. This trick always results in moist, less hard meatballs! Spoken from a true Italian stallion :)