This is a crazy thing for someone who cooks for a living to admit but, up until last week, I had never made meatballs.
Actually, that’s not technically true — thanks to my Viking roots, I am an old hand at Frikadeller, which are essentially Danish meatballs.
But what I’m really talking about here are Italian meatballs. You know, the ones drenched in tomato sauce and perched atop a twist of spaghetti or piled onto Italian rolls with tons of cheese and broiled until bubbly.
You may ask yourself, why would I want to use a recipe for meatballs created by someone who just took her first crack at it? But here’s the thing: every single person who tasted these tiny globes of deliciousness raved over them. And I don’t just mean Howard.
The whole reason for making meatballs stems from a lunch I volunteered to make for the Pender Island Fire Department. I just joined their culinary brigade, and have signed up to provide members with occasional meals to keep them fueled during training weekends.
Chief Charlie Boyte and DC Mike Dine have done an amazing job in the past few years to revitalize our island’s fire department. They have grown it from a competent — but WAY over-stretched — crew of fire fighters and first responders to a robust, well-rounded organization that draws upon the strengths of everyone in our community. From retired mechanics to under-employed chefs (cough) — the PIFR can use us all.
The first thing I thought of when I signed up to make lunch for everyone last Sunday was meatball subs and Caesar salad. Like I said, I haven’t made meatballs before, but I do have almost endless experience with meatloaf and sausages of many types. I asked the advice of another cook whose taste buds I admire, and off I went.
In the case of this first batch, I used 5 pounds of meat, plus some bacon. That made A LOT of golf-side meatballs. I had a hungry crew to feed, but I can also see the wisdom of making a big batch and freezing them for quick meals. That said, I’ve given you half that recipe, just because my recipes tend to serve 2-4 rather than 40.
I made some Italian Rolls from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, a batch of tomato sauce spiked with oregano and topped it all with a mix of shredded mozzarella and parm. Super yum, is all I can say.
(Click on the title below for a printable version of the recipe.)
Yield: 4 to 5 dozen golf ball-sized meatballs
: I can’t believe that I’ve never had meatballs in my freezer. Crazy. These ones are really, really good.
- Bacon, cut in lardons – 4 slices
- Onion, roughly chopped – 1 Cup (½ med)
- Celery, roughly chopped – ½ Cup (1 med stalk)
- Parsley, rougly chopped – ½ Cup (2 handfuls)
- Garlic, roughly chopped – 1 Tble (2 large cloves)
- Lean Ground Beef – 1½ lb (675 g)
- Ground Pork – 1 lb (450 g)
- Breadcrumbs – 1 Cup (240 ml)
- Worcestershire Sauce – 1 tsp (5 ml)
- Ground Fennel – 1 tsp (5 ml)
- Salt – 1 tsp (5 ml)
- Ground Pepper – ¼ tsp (2 ml)
- Chili Flakes – ¼ tsp (2 ml)
- Fry the bacon lardons over med heat to gently render the fat. When starting to crisp, remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.
- Pulse the onion, celery, parsley and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped, but not pureed.
- Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl, together with the bacon and vegetables from the food processor. Use your hands to combine the mixture well. At this point, I fried a little bit to test the seasoning. I encourage you to do this, especially when making dozens at a time.
- Roll the mixture into golf-sized balls and arrange on a baking sheet. To serve them immediately, bake them in a 450° F oven for 12-15 minutes, or until cooked through.
- Serve with tomato sauce, any way you like…
Preparation time: 20 minute(s)
Cooking time: 15 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 12
Culinary tradition: Italian
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