Hmmm, I say, curiously tapping my fingers against my chin. The inquisitive recesses of my brain are questioning who gets credit for being the first daring cook to grab a scoopful of ground meat, mix it with seasoning stuff, roll it into a ball, and cook it. Was this done on purpose? Was it an accident? Could this culinary genius in actuality be a prehistoric caveman sitting around the campfire with a kabob gone wrong experiment? That’s such a funny word – prehistoric. Do we all not agree that the word history inherently implies the past? Meaning, you know, uh, everything prior to the present? History is history. Why do we need the “pre” part?
Anywhooo, who ever thought this up, whether it be a nomad in the dessert craving a hot meal or a grey haired grandma being frugal, meatball recipes have found their way into just about every cuisine. I’ve even seen vegetarian “meatballs.” (Um, that’s just wrong. They need to come up with a new name, ya know?)Italians are known for their meatballs. My grandma's, for example, were spectacularly stellar. We’re talkin’ serious meatball magic, folks. Grandma’s version boasted gloriously large rounds of beef that were just shy of tennis ball size. They were always poached in tomato sauce, never browned in a skillet or oven, and always served mounded high in a bowl. Meatballs were never ON the pasta. The steaming serving bowls could be next to each other, but never mixed. In fact, most meat and pasta were served separately, the exception being if a meat sauce was prepared.
My kids and husband love meatballs. Littlest girl, though, cannot eat traditional meatballs that contain bread crumbs. I’ve come up with many gluten free substitutions for the crumb, and they work great, but this time I borrowed a brilliant idea put forth by Marjie of Modern Day Ozzie and Harriet.
When Marjie makes meatballs for a crowd, actually she makes everything for a crowd, but in terms of meatballs, when she’s preparing them, she uses no filler at all. They are MEATballs, afterall.
These are so easy to prepare. One word of caution: since no filler is used, you need more meat than you are used to using to prepare the same amount of meatballs. I used just under 3 lbs of ground chuck, and that made 24 good sized meatballs. You’ll note I didn’t add fresh onion or garlic to these puppies. It’s a texture issue with my clan, so I left them out and used onion salt in its stead.Onward I plunged, rolling ball after ball of the mainly singular ingredient. Let’s take a vote. How many of you get the “icks” when touching raw ground meat? Sometimes touching raw meat bugs me, and sometimes it doesn’t. It didn’t this time. I’ve made them twice now and they are a hit! This latest time I merged Marjie’s meat idea along with grandma’s process of poaching them in sauce. The result? Well, see for yourself!
Mega Mighty Meatballs (makes giant meatballs)
2 quarts spaghetti sauce
1 quart water
Meatballs: (Use your favorite seasonings; this works for my bunch)
3 lbs ground beef (I’m sure turkey would work fine)
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon Lawry’s Season Salt
1 teaspoon onion salt or powder, your choice
Sea Salt to taste
Ground Black Pepper
Bring 2 quarts of spaghetti sauce and 1 quart of water to a boil in a large stock pot. Meanwhile, combine all meatball ingredients trying to not overhandle the meat (that makes for a dense meatball). Take about 3 tablespoons of the meat mixture, and roll into a ball. Repeat until all the meat is used. Carefully place the meatballs, one by one, into the boiling sauce. Bring back to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until the meatballs are done. Meatballs can be served with pasta, as a hoagie filling, as a main dish, etc.I served mine with Monterey Jack Polenta. Mmm, mmm, good.See how juicy they are?That is the correct term, right?These guys are very beefy flavored. Mmm ... beef.I don’t know who first came up with the meatball concept, but I’m eternally thankful to them. And to Marjie, too, for the great idea. I think next time I’ll roll them smaller and make sweet and sour meatballs. And because these rolly rounds contain no breadcrumbs, they are gluten free! Yippee!
What’s your favorite meatball recipe?