Few things, to me, are more desirable for dinner than spaghetti and meatballs. It’s a favorite of mine on any menu, from high-end restaurants to local diners and even my very own kitchen.
This week, I put together a combination of my favorite recipes to showcase how I like to do my own, complete with a homemade marinara, juicy meatballs and even a suprise ingredient that you likely have never seen before.
When making meatballs, I tend to be very specific. This is because most of the meat selections for meatballs are things I don’t eat. I don’t eat any form of porcine meat, including ham, pork or bacon. It’s not a religious thing (that’s always the first question people ask me); I just don’t like it. On the rare times I post recipes using these types of protein, I pull my husband in for taste testing so he can help me with recipe development. He’s always willing to eat bacon in the name of quality control!
Also, I don’t eat veal. This is a choice borne out of ethical concerns. I don’t condone its use in cooking and I don’t allow it in my home because I do feel quite strongly about this. Since I know restaurants sometimes use veal in their meatballs, I’m always very careful to ask what meats are used in meatball preparation before ordering.
So, for my meatballs, I prefer to use 100% beef. One thing I have begun doing is grinding my own meat and I think this really elevates the recipe to another level. The texture of a really finely ground beef is so much easier to work with and incorporates into the other ingredients easier.
I also prefer to cook my meatballs on a baking rack instead of directly on the baking sheet. I find that this helps facilitate even cooking. When I use the baking sheet alone, I tend to get a brown spot where the meatball and metal touch. The baking rack offers even coloring and texture on all sides. Although, I will admit I’ve found a few meatballs with the lines of the rack indented in them at times. And don’t forget to grease the rack itself or you may find the meatballs stick to the grid!
Overall, I would consider these meatballs to be tame, but flavorful. I prefer to let the sauce be the star of the show in a spaghetti recipe, but there are some alterations you could make to these meatballs to really spice it up. I think this recipe gives you a hearty, juicy sidekick for your marinara. And, it features all of my favorite Italian flavors.
Stay tuned for more recipes this week as I put the whole spaghetti and meatball dish together!
1 lb. finely ground beef (I use 80/20 mix)
1/3 cup Italian-seasoned panko crumbs
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
3 tbsp milk
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp dried parsley
1/2 tbsp dried basil
1/4 tsp roasted red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Preheat oven to 450F.
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine. I find it’s helpful to dive in with clean hands to get the ingredients to fully incorporate.
Roll meat mixture into 1” balls. Place on a greased baking rack set on top of a baking sheet.
Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Makes 20-24 meatballs.