Meatballs for the longest time have not been a warm and fuzzy subject with me. There is nothing worse than biting into a rock hard meatball no matter how nice the flavor is.
Well, all this was about to change some Christmas' ago. My dear friend Beth invited us to her mother's Christmas Eve party and Beth's mother Mrs. Lambert is a wonderful cook and hostess. She has a Virginian charm and style of eras gone by and puts out an amazing banquet every year for the holidays.
One staple on her menu (along with her oyster stew) are meatballs in marinara sauce. Her's are soft and flavorful and melt in your mouth. Yum...
So imagine my surprise when Beth, an amazing cook and hostess herself (traits she inherits from her grandmother & mother no doubt) gifts me a handwritten collection of her family recipes for my birthday. What a wonderful and thoughtful gift! And in it was the recipe for Mrs. Lambert's meatballs.
Now, one might say you should never mess with perfection....well, I can't help it! Over the years I have added my own little tweaks to the recipe and though the recipe continues to remain largely Mrs. Lambert's, it is now also a la Devaki!
I promise, one bite into these and you are going to be in 7th heaven! And the sauce.....spoon licking good! Try 'em and see! Look for the upcoming post 'On the subject of Excellent Marinara sauce' for ramblings and the recipe for one of the best Marinara sauces ever! Promise, Girl scouts honor!
Over to the meatballs - the main ingredients in this recipe are fresh chopped parsley, fresh chopped garlic, Italian seasoning, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes and seasoned bread crumbs along with equal quantities of ground beef and Italian sausage.
Begin by preheating oven to 400 def F.
In a large bowl combine our base ingredients for the meatball first - fresh chopped parsley, fresh chopped garlic, Italian seasoning, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes and seasoned bread crumbs.
Combine vigorously with a whisk till blended.
To the mixing bowl, add equal amounts of raw ground beef (15-20% fat) and mild Italian sausage. With clean hands, mix gently ensurin g that the mixture is loosely but well mixed.
Cooks Note - Do not squeeze and compress the meat together as you mix or it will result in hard meatballs when cooked.
Spray some non-stick cooking spray on a large baking tray. I use a pretty ratty aluminum pan that is about 12 x 18 inches which works really well.
On the subject of ratty, my baking tray confirms Item (6) of the Honest scrap post which speaks to the subject of ugly pots!
Pull out a hunk of meat between your fingers and roll loosely into a ball approx 2 inches round.
Cooks Note - I weigh mine individually on a kitchen scale so each one weighs 2 oz each. I get about 21 meatballs which works well - 20 for dinner and 1 for the cook! Seriously - are you going to be able to resist popping one in your mouth once these come out of the oven? ....smiles...
Place them in a row not touching till you have used up all the meat.
Very Important - Now pour a cup of beef or chicken stock (which ever you have handy) in the tray. We are going to collect the yummy pan juices and use it for our marinara sauce later.
Place in the oven and set the timer to 30 minutes.
Cooks Note - When the meatballs come out of the oven, once they have cooled a bit, you will find the melted cheese etc. congealed around each of the meatballs along with the pan juices.
Separate it from the meatballs and leave in the pan. Whisk it up to break up the solids to use in our Marinara sauce. If you are not going to make the Marinara sauce straight away then remove pan drippings to a container and store in the refrigerator till further use.
So there you have it - melt in your mouth meatballs. When I took a bite of one straight out of the oven they had turned out fantastic! I was amazed by the burst of flavor from the garlic, the cheese and parsley and also by how soft & moist they were.
Don't forget, look for the upcoming post 'On the subject of Excellent Marinara sauce' for an equally brilliant recipe! ...smiles...
Preparation time - 15 minutes
Baking time - 30 minutes
1 lb raw ground beef/chuck (15-20% fat)
1 lb mild Italian sausage
1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
4 tbs chopped fresh parsley
4 tbs grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
2 tbs fresh chopped garlic
1/2 tsp red chilly powder or Cayenne pepper
1 cup beef or chicken stock
Breadcrumb mixture - In a large bowl, large enough to fit all the meat as well, mix together breadcrumbs, parsley, cheese, Italian seasoning, eggs, chopped garlic and red chilly powder. With a whisk, mix vigorously till the mixture is well blended.
Meatballs - To the bowl now add the raw ground beef and mild Italian sausage. With clean hands, mix gently with a light hand ensuring that the mixture is loose but well mixed. Do not squeeze the meat together or it will result in a hard meatball once cooked.
Pull out a hunk of meat between your fingers and roll loosely into a ball approx 2 inches round or weigh on a kitchen scale so each meatball weighs 2 oz. You should get about 21 meatballs.
Cooking method -
Preheat oven to 400 deg F. Spray some non-stick cooking spray on a large baking tray.
Place the meatballs in a row not touching each other till you have used up all the meat. Now pour a cup of beef or chicken stock (which ever you have handy) in the tray.
Place in the oven and set the timer to 30 minutes.
Cooks Note - Collect congealed solids and pan juices. Remove pan drippings to a container and store in the refrigerator for later use to prepare Marinara sauce.
Serve hot as is or with Marinara sauce over spaghetti.
Do you have a favorite Meatballs family recipe or a story you would like to share with us? If so please let us know about it in the comments.We would love to hear from you!