Thursday, September 25, 2014

Homemade Italian Meatballs Tutorial

I know many of you have been waiting for this recipe and here it finally is! These are my homemade meatballs. It has taking me years to perfect these and lots of "discussion" with mine and my husbands Italian families. If any of you understand how a "discussion" in an Italian family goes, than you appreciate just how much work went into this recipe!

So with out further ado I give the yummy homemade meatballs! CLICK HERE for the printable version of the recipe. Oh and just FYI, I recommend reading this once through before you dive in trying to make them.

I use 5 lbs of ground beef because I make lots at one time and freeze them for later use! So this will give you roughly 36 meatballs, that's about 7 meatballs per pound. I am truly Italian for the mere fact that I have never actually measured out the ingredients, I just keep throwing it in the bowl til it looks right. That being said you need a BIG bowl!

Throw your ground beef and eggs in the bowl so they can slightly defrost because mixing cold, wet meat with your bear hands tends to hurt after just a few seconds. So in the meantime, dice up your onion and garlic, then throw them in a pan to saute. 

I use my handy dandy food chopper for this process, it makes my life so much easier! I also like to use my cast iron skillet and just a little cooking spray for sauteing. Sprinkle a little garlic salt and pepper in there, I love the Trador Joes grinder brand myself..... Mmmm I can smell it through memory! Is that possible?  

While the defrosting and sauteing is going on, make your bread crumbs. Yes I said MAKE, I don't use store bought bread crumbs. This is super easy to do with any blender or food processor. I just happen to use this old school Sunbeam Oskar food processor from like the 70's that my mom found at a garage sale, I LOVE this thing. You twist the lid to turn it on, oh it's awesome. In fact, quick, funny story about it.

So back in our old place I used it, washed it and had my kid put everything away. Well the next time I went to use it, the lid had "magically" disappeared. I was so bummed, but I decided to hang on to it just in case the lid showed up. A year and half later it made its return! Low and behold while I was throwing out Tupperware containers I never used, in preparation for our move, there was the lid! How glad I was that I hung onto this amazing little retro kitchen appliance! Oh and they are still making this thing and it looks exactly the same!!!

Ok back to the meaty balls. So grab your favorite bread, throw it in your blender or whatever your using until it's tiny, fluffy and and looks like... well crumbs. I just happen to like Natures Own "Honey Oat" brand bread. I have noticed if you use the grainy stuff your meatballs taste that way, but if you like that kinda thing great.

This next part is very important! No Italian dinner is complete without Parmesan cheese, but it has to be the real stuff though! We're not talking the crap in the green bottle that looks and tastes like bleached sand. No I'm talking the stuff you buy in a block and crumble yourself. Ironically I use that same little retro food processor to crumble my cheese too.

Oh and to those of you who know what a Vitamix nut I am and are asking yourself "Why not use your Vitamix for that?"

I have two answers for you.

1. I have! It turns out okay but you have go at a slower pace. The big canister is made for liquids and stuff like cheese starts to goo together at the bottom near the blade if you try to do to much at one time. That is unless you use their dry canister which I don't own.

2. I have this awesome little retro dude and he just knocks it out of the park, so I use him. (Why it became a male, I'm not sure)

What real Parmesan cheese looks like!

Ok so back to the glorious balls of cheesy, meaty goodness. By this point your sauteing is probably done or has been and you just set it aside. So now it's time to throw it all together: the cheese, bread crumbs, spices and the sauteed stuff.

I use this cheap little handheld beater my grandma gave me because I'm still waiting for my Kitchen Aid mixer as an anniversary gift or even better for someone to give me one to review & one to giveaway to my readers. **Wink 0_- Wink** 

The only problem is after the meat starts to thicken, which it will, it gets hard to mix. At which point I have to switch over to mixing and mashing with my bear hands, which you can just start that way if you wish.

Once you have a giant blob of meat mix, it's time to make balls! Take a small handful of mix and roll it around in your hand. Make sure to mash it together well so it doesn't fall apart. They should come out being about 1 1/2 - 2 inches in diameter. Make them bigger if you want, I don't care. I've just found this size works well for kids and adults. Oh and remember the bigger you make them the less overall amount you get and the longer you need to cook them in your Crockpot.

Now what you do with them once they are rolled is up to you. See this part I've been told is un-Italian, but since I like to be on the healthier side and still eat my meat cake too, I don't care! I bake them for about 10 minutes in a preheated oven at 350 degrees. Just enough to brown the outsides and melt off some of the fatty grease. I have a trick to doing this, place a bakers rack over a baking pan, then place your balls on the bakers rack.

Why do it this way? Well, just check out the amount of grease below! The first picture is of the fat that dripped off the balls while cooking, without this simple little trick that would be in your sauce! Ugh no wonder the Italians are known for be "fat n happy"! Don't get me wrong I LOVE Italian food, but come on we are in the 21 century lets get with the program people. My great grandmother is probably cursing me from the grave right now! =)

The second is of the grease that was still dripping off the meatballs during the cooling process. Yeah gross.

Oh and speaking of the cooling processes, you'll only want to let them cool if your going to freeze them like I do. Just enough that they don't melt your freezer bags. I use my awesome Foodsaver to get the job done. Have I mentioned I love this thing. I only do about 6-7 meatballs per package because I know thats about how many my family will eat in one meal, however as my kids grow, I'm sure that will change!

I usually throw a batch straight into the Crockpot for that nights dinner, in which case they don't need to cool first. Let them cook for about 2 1/2 hours fresh (4 hours frozen), any longer and they will start to fall apart. 


Disclaimer: There ARE Amazon links placed throughout this post. Should you click one of these links and purchase that product through said link, I will receive a small commission. However, I only link to products I use and love!

Thanks for sharing another adventure with me!
Stay safe, stay sane and stay absolutely splendid!

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