Cheap Recipe: Homemade Meatballs for Now-and-Later

12 Apr

For a printable version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

Meatball sandwich
Use half the recipe tonight and freeze the other half for easy dinners later…like this quickie garlic meatball hoagie!

This is one of those great recipes that has so many uses you might set up a regular day each month just to “stock up” your freezer with them–much like whole cooked chickens.

meatballs

Now that-sa bigga meatball!

The concept of homemade meatballs isn’t that different from homemade meatloaf, except the seasoning and ratios are a little different, and that you can use a rather handy kitchen tip in making these little guys (see below).

raw fixin's

Start with some raw meat fixin's...

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Begin by combining 1 lb. spicy pork or turkey sausage with 1lb. lean ground beef in a large mixing bowl.

Add 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon oregano and about 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (can substitute 1 teaspoon dried parsley if necessary).

Bread crumbs & seasoning.

Bread crumbs, egg & seasoning.

 Break an egg into the mixture, add about 1 cup fine bread crumbs and about 1/4 cup steak sauce (can substitute ketchup, tomato paste, barbecue sauce, whatever…); salt/pepper to taste if desired. (Vary your salt based on which sauce you used, though–steak sauce, for example, is MUCH saltier than, say, plain tomato paste!)

Form mixture into balls.

Don't forget to take off your wedding ring! (Whoops.)

Before mixing, stop to prepare any oven equipment to avoid lots of starts-and-stops and repetitive handwashing/disinfecting after you begin working with the raw meat.

 
 

raw meatballs

Muffin tins keep meatballs (and flammable grease!) right where they belong.

Kitchen tip:

Use mini- (or regular-sized) muffin tins to bake meatballs–not only will you contain any excess grease that cooks out of the meat (preventing possible oven fire!), but it’s also much easier to keep them evenly spaced when placing in the oven.

Using cookie sheets for meatball baking means you’ve got to be extra-careful loading the oven up to keep them from rolling around everywhere. That poses a very real threat to burning yourself in the process! Muffin tins make this a complete non-issue.

Don't overbrown the meatballs.

Don't over-brown the meatballs.

With hands, knead together all ingredients until evenly incorporated. Form meat into approximately 1-1/2″-wide balls and place in lightly-sprayed mini muffin tins.

So many uses!

So many uses!

Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until uniformly browned and test piece has no pink in its center. Beware of overcooking, particularly in the muffin tins, as grease in the bottom of the tin can cause the bottom side to harden as it browns if it goes longer than necessary. Begin checking for doneness right at 15 minutes to avoid any chances of this.

Remove finished meatballs from oven and transfer one-at-a-time to paper-towel-lined plate to soak up any excess grease. Serve immediately or freeze in a single layer on cookie sheet. Once frozen individually, transfer groups of meatballs to ziplock bags for longer-term freezer storage.

To reheat, place in single layer on paper-towel lined plate and microwave on HIGH power setting (multiply one minute per every six meatballs on the plate). Use them in sandwiches, pasta, soups, appetizers and more!

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6 Responses to “Cheap Recipe: Homemade Meatballs for Now-and-Later”

  1. Rheannon April 12, 2010 at 6:53 PM #

    I’m so excited about the mini muffin baking idea! you are such a genius

  2. Gracie April 13, 2010 at 8:12 AM #

    Wow! A genius! I was just going for “not-losing-my-eyebrows-in-a-grease-fire!” 🙂 Thanks for making me feel special, Rhee. 🙂 Do watch them close around the 15-minute mark, though. The caveat of doing it this way is that it’s easy to harden the bottoms in grease without knowing, although it shouldn’t be an issue if you’re using, say, 90+ lean beef and turkey sausage. I also lowered the temp from how I used to do it, which helped a lot.

  3. Kim April 13, 2010 at 9:59 AM #

    I had to log on to compliment your mini muffin idea, too. I love it! Not much on cleaning the things, though, got any handy tips for that?

  4. Gracie April 13, 2010 at 11:07 AM #

    Actually, I do! I keep an extra-firm bottle brush (obviously not the same one I use on Ollie’s bottles) in the kitchen for scrubbing muffin/loaf pans. Those anodized aluminum tins, while awesome for keeping stuff from sticking, get SO gummy whenever I use cooking spray! I couldn’t stand cleaning them until I figured out that dishsoap was way more effective when administered on a bottle brush!

    So…you might try that.

  5. Kim April 14, 2010 at 8:40 AM #

    Is there no end to your genius??

  6. Gracie April 14, 2010 at 9:14 AM #

    What can I say? When it comes to scrubbing dishes, I am right up there with the brilliant minds of my day. LOL

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