ITALIAN MEATBALLS

Spaghetti and meatballs was one of the first few recipes that I had posted onto my blog back when it was first starting out. Lately, with the pandemic going on, one thing I’ve been doing has been to re-visit my old recipes and see if I could improve on them. Those meatballs were a prime candidate for that.

In this new iteration, I switch things up by using a blend of both ground beef and ground Italian sausage to give the meatballs more moisture as well as a punch in flavor. A few other spices and Pecorino cheese help to round things out for these meatballs, where the end result is flavorful but not too dense like meatballs I’ve made with only ground beef.

Meatballs in red sauce, served over pasta. Best not to mess with a classic combo.

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Italian Meatballs
Makes 14 – 16 meatballs

1-1/2 tbsp breadcrumbs
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lb. ground beef (85% or 90% lean would work)
1/2 lb. ground Italian sausage
1 egg
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tbsp Pecorino cheese

Prep Work:

  • In a small container, measure out your garlic powder, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and Pecorino cheese.
  • In a large bowl, combine your ground beef and ground Italian sausage. Using your hands, begin to blend the two meat types together.
  • Once the meats have been loosely combined, sprinkle in your seasoning blend. Also drop your egg, olive oil, and breadcrumbs into the bowl as well before thoroughly combining everything.
    At this point, preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Take out an oven tray, cover the bottom with some aluminum foil, and give it a light layer of cooking spray.
  • Roll out your meatballs to about 1-1/4″ diameter in size and arrange them onto the prepared tray.
  • (If the meat feels like it still has too much moisture, you can continue to add in some breadcrumbs until you feel like the consistency is right. My trick is usually to hold up a chunk of meat vertically, checking to see if it can break apart with gravity. If it can, the mixture isn’t balanced yet.)

Cooking:

  • Bake the meatballs in the oven for about 15 – 18 minutes. You’re looking for them to be browned on the outside, with maybe some darkening on the top.
  • If you’re planning to use them in sauce like I did, I would recommend going for 15 minutes in the oven and then transferring them into the warmed-up pasta sauce for 3 – 4 minutes. This allows the meatballs to continue cooking just a little bit but also for the tomato sauce’s flavor to seep into the meatballs.

Serving:

  • You can plate these up in a variety of ways: just plain meatballs, with sauce, over pasta, or even in a meatball sub. It’s up to you how you’re feeling, but I’m definitely more of a pasta type of guy when it comes to meatballs.

I really enjoy the moisture in this rendition of the meatballs, which primarily comes from that combination of the beef and Italian sausage. The flavors from the spices are well-balanced, and the red pepper flakes are just enough to give that hint of heat as part of the aftertaste. I had to remind myself to stop eating up all the meatballs and leave some for my leftover portions. At the rate I was going, those leftovers would have just been pasta with some red sauce and Pecorino cheese.

Categories: Recipes

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