Monday, June 16, 2008

A Really Great Meatball Recipe

I try to do as much kitchen prep on the weekends as I can, including making meals that have enough portions that I can freeze for later. This saves us time and money on the 'We have no idea what to make for dinner' nights.

Today, since I took a vacation day, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen. One of my favorite multi-meal recipes is meatballs. I've adapted my meatball recipe from The Best Recipe, by the editors of Cooks Illustrated. The cookbook was given to me as a gift, and it's a great cookbook to own. CI is willing to test as many recipes as it takes to get the 'best recipe'.

If you have about 90 minutes, don't mind getting your hands messy, and want to have 6-8 really good meals, depending on the size of your family, this meatball recipe is worth the effort.
This recipe makes 85-90 1" polpette-style meatballs.

You will need:
4 slices of wheat, oat nut, or multi grain bread with the crusts removed
1 cup of buttermilk or 1 cup milk with 1 tbsp vinegar mixed in, let stand for 10 minutes after mixing
2-2.5 lbs ground beef and pork (I use 1/2 and 1/2. Ground beef on it's own doesn't taste as good in this recipe)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 large egg
2 tablespoons parsley or a combination of parsley, oregano and basil
1 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Get out 2-3 baking sheets, 2 plates, and about 8 paper towels. Place 2 paper towels on each plate.
Note: I don't use too many paper towels in my daily life, but here's an exception I recommend making. You do not want to have to clean regular towels after this process.

Tear the slices of bread into tiny (and I do mean small - about 1/4 to 1/3 size of a female pinky nail is about right) pieces into a large mixing bowl

Once the bread is in bits, pour the buttermilk or milk/vinegar mixture over the bread, mix well and let stand for about 15 minutes. The mixture should resemble a paste when it is done soaking.

Add all the remaining ingredients to the bowl. Hand mix the meatball mixture for 1-2 minutes, until the ingredients are fully incorporated.

Roll the mixture into 1-1.5" balls. Place in rows on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 11-14 minutes. You may need to slice one to ensure they are done.

While the first sheet is baking, roll out the rest of the meatballs. I typically fill about 2 1/4 baking sheets, or about 90 meatballs.

When the meatballs are done, remove immediately from the baking sheet to the paper-towel covered plates. Cover with more paper towels to blot grease. I usually have multiple towel/meatball layers when I'm done.

Let the meatballs cool. Place in baggies or tupperware and freeze. Assume about 5 per person, per serving.

I hope you enjoy this recipe, and all the meals it makes. Coming up next: Fresh bread, the kneadless way.

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