Well, hello! It took me a little bit longer than promised to get my meatballs recipe up. Sorry about that! It’s really sad that it took so long because really, the recipe isn’t mine, it’s from Faith Durand. I mostly just wanted to share it with you and to share my modifications. You’d think it wouldn’t be so hard to post about that! Since today seems to be the right kind of day for a bit more self-deprecation, you won’t mind if I also point out that there are NO photos from making these meatballs, right? I offer up two excuses for the lack of process photos: 1) My hands were really really messy and there was nobody around who knew how to operate the camera (though, my 4 year old is getting better at it) and 2) you already understand that the key steps to making meatballs is ‘dump it in a bowl and then mush it with your hands’. You didn’t really need photos of that anyway, right?
So, I mean, really, for a meatball recipe do you even needs instructions? I bet you could mostly figure it out. Still, I’d like to say just a couple of things about the process of whipping up these guys at home. The first thing is that it’s ok not to use three kinds of meat. If you look around online or talk to any true-blooded Italian, they’ll tell you that you need pork, beef, and veal to make a mean meatball. I have to tell you that I can almost never find ground veal at my local grocer. If I can, sure, I’ll buy it but only after spending a good 10 minutes convincing the money man that it really is worth the price on the package. If you are Italian you might find it to be a sacrilege to suggest making meatballs without the veal (Hello Auntie ML!) but you can still make a darn good meatball without it. And I’d argue that if you’re at the store and you’re faced with the decision to buy pre-made meatballs or to make them at home without the veal – put down the giant box, give up the veal and you’ll be happier.
The last thing I’ll mention about meatballs is the mixing. You might have heard that when you’re making hamburgers, you don’t want to handle the meat too much, that it changes the texture. That is not true for meatballs. It really is best to get your hands right in there (or get creative with a couple of wooden spoons) and get all of the ingredients well blended and the texture and flavor to be consistent though out your bowl. You really want to smoosh it all around until you get one entire lump in the bowl that’s soft and the same colour. Make sense? Now, on to the recipe!
A modified version of the recipe by Faith Durand via A Cup of Jo
Makes about 60 meatballs
1 1/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup fine dried breadcrumbs
1 1/2 pound ground pork
1 1/2 pound ground beef
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika (check your nearest bulk food store)
1/2 tsp cayenne (optional if you have family who can’t take the heat)
3/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley, dry is also ok
About 3 tblsps dry sage or 4 tblsps of fresh sage, chopped
1 1/2 cups finely diced or grated yellow onion, from about 2 small yellow onions
4 large garlic cloves, finely minced or grated
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 large eggs, beaten
Pour the milk over the breadcrumbs in a small bowl. Stir them together and set them aside for at least 10 minutes for the crumbs to soften. Mix the ground meats together thoroughly in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the salt and a generous amount of black pepper, then add the cayenne and smoked paprika. Stir in the chopped parsley, sage, onion, garlic and Parmesan. Mix with your hands until these are very thoroughly distributed through the meat. Stir in the breadcrumbs and milk, as well as the eggs, and mix thoroughly.
Shape and cook the meatballs immediately, or refrigerate the meat for up to 24 hours and then shape. When shaping, take about 2 tablespoons of the meat mixture into the palm of your hand and roll it around, adding or taking away meat to achieve consistently sized balls about the size you’d need for golfing.
You can cook the meatballs a number of ways, but I’m going to recommend my preferred method, which is to broil them for a crunchy exterior. Pre-heat the oven to 350. Place them on a baking sheet and drizzle lightly with olive oil. You can fit quite a few on one sheet, and should be able to get the entire batch on 2-3 sheets so that they can be baked all together. Bake the meatballs for 10 minutes then change the oven to broil and broil from another 8 to 12 minutes, turning once during broiling. Meatballs should be cooked through and a little brown and crunchy on the outside.
Meatballs can now be frozen for many months. Freeze on a sheet until firmed and then store in freezer bags in the freezer.
Before serving (from the freezer or straight from the oven), heat or re-heat the meatballs in the tomato sauce and serve atop a big plate of spaghetti.