Make-ahead Meatballs

I have a habit of planning and buying ingredients for meals I never get around to making. This happened very recently. I purchased some items and they sat around mocking me. 

“You’ll never make stuffed pork chops,” they said. 

“Even sketti and meatballs is beyond you,” they told me.

And they were right. Like many, my roommate and I are constantly on the go, and we usually get home late enough that I don’t want to spend an hour or more cooking up a meal from scratch. Stuffed pork chops are a time sink (though so delicious!), and even putting together some meatballs and jarred sauce for spaghetti takes more time than I’ve been willing to invest lately.

So when I found myself with a little spare time, I decided to try something different: making meatballs in the oven, to be refrigerated or frozen and eaten later. 

I ended up with more meatballs than I counted on, and boy was I glad! My fellow bloggers and I snacked on some miniature meatballs (along with all sorts of cheese), and I still had enough minis for a pizza and more than enough full-size meatballs for spaghetti. Score! Best of all, they turned out even better than I had hoped they would.

Meatballs, like meatloaf, are a matter of personal taste. For the meatballs that would be covered in sauce, I kept things simple: meat, bread crumbs, egg, and seasonings. For the mini meatballs, I added some cheese and some more seasoning. Both are very tasty.

The basic recipe is as follows:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 c bread crumbs (seasoned or unseasoned, depending on your personal preference)
  • 1 pound ground beef (I used chuck)
  • 1 pound Italian sausage (I used a chub)

To these basic items I added some seasonings, as I said: salt, pepper, and a mushroom and pepper blend called “mushroom truffle hunt” that I found in the clearance bin at a local supermarket. For the mini meatballs, I added a few things to about half the seasoned meat: about 1/4 cup grated parmesan and maybe a tablespoon of a garlic/romano/spice blend from Garlic Festival called Garli Ghetti. 

Mix all ingredients thoroughly by hand until the mixture will easily form balls that hold their shape. Drop the meatballs in a greased sheet pan or baking pan and bake at 400 for about 20-30 minutes (until they are partially browned on the outside). 

Freeze, refrigerate, or eat immediately. Great for pizzas, spaghetti, meatball subs, or finger foods. 

You can, of course, change up the seasonings to suit your tastes or what you have on hand:

  • Fresh or granulated garlic and onion
  • Italian seasoning blend, oregano, basil, parsley, and/or thyme
  • Shredded cheese (you’ll probably need to use less of the bread crumbs)
  • Shredded spinach
  • Different ground meats (or combination of meats) such as lamb, turkey, chicken, venison, or pork
  • If you don’t have any bread crumbs on hand, pulverize Saltine crackers or bread you’ve dried in the oven (250 degrees for about 30 minutes) in a food processor or chopper. 

Don’t be afraid to experiment. Bon appétit!

~LB

 

 

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