You can really put a lot of time and effort into making meatballs. I like when a restaurant does something special with them, but if it’s my work we’re talking about, “easy to make” seems to make them taste a whole lot better.
2 pounds ground beef (see note below)
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
NOTE: I used 80/20 ground beef, meaning 80% lean with 20% fat. You can go leaner, but I really wouldn’t go the other direction because I cook these in the sauce and you don’t want it greasy. You can also mix beef and turkey, or pork, or pretty much whatever ground meat you want as long as the total fat content doesn’t get too high.
Lots of meatball (and meatloaf) recipes call for breadcrumbs. You’ll notice this recipe doesn’t include any. The main reason people use them – besides “that’s what the recipe said” – is that it’s supposed to keep the meatballs more tender. Maybe you’ve had some overcooked meatballs that were chewy and unappetizing, but I’ve literally never had that problem.
Bland? Sure. Burned? Yeah, I did that once. (Pro tip: Finish cooking before the Superbowl starts.) But properly cooked yet too tough because of no breadcrumbs? Just doesn’t happen.
Don’t skip this part!
So here’s the line that’s going to make reading this whole post worth it: Start by beating together everything except the meat. Garlic, onion, oregano, salt and eggs.
I’ve spent decades putting the meat in the bowl first, dumping everything on top, then working it for several minutes trying to get everything incorporated evenly. A couple of weeks ago it occurred to me to flip it around. The clouds parted, the sun shone down, and a host of angels … okay, maybe not. But it’s so much easier you wouldn’t believe it.
Once everything is thoroughly mixed, then you add the meat and mix it all together.
I wanted to go with 8 balls per pound, which means 16 for 2 pounds of meat. So divide the meat in half, in half again, and again, and again.
Or you can weigh each meatball on a scale and be all picky about it.
Now roll each portion between your hands until it’s ball-shaped.
(If I have to tell you what shape “ball-shaped” is, you’re just hopeless. Put down the food and back away slowly.)
Last week when I showed cooking meatballs in sauce, I used a small pot on the stove. This time I went with the slow cooker so I could set it and forget it all day.
After nearly seven hours, the grease floating on the top confirmed that the balls were cooked.
You can soak this up with bread, like I did last time, or just stir it in.
That’s right, I didn’t strain the grease. And guess what? It tasted phenomenal.
Before serving, I cut all the balls in half so they would fit better on a meatball sandwich.
And that’s it.
PS: Here’s the recipe for the sauce I cooked them in.