One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to do more freezing. I spend a lot of time cooking and yet, I often come home from work and there is nothing to eat. Since cooking meals from scratch 7 nights a week is just not realistic, I really want to make more of an effort to make some good freezer meals.
So now a confession: Meatballs are one of my Top 5 all time favorite foods. I absolutely love them. I have yet to experience a day I would not feel like eating Meatballs and some pasta. In my mind, there is just nothing better than homemade meatballs. I have spent six years pefecting my meatball recipe and I tweak it almost every time I make them. I am so committed to meatball perfection, I am almost always dissapointed by those I find in restaurants.
I probably make meatballs once a month and my freezer is always full of them. Sometimes I drop them into soup of slice them up for a pizza or panini topping. I truly believe there is not end to the delicious possiblities.
Meatball perfection is about texture, size and choice of meat. Always go with a mix, 100% ground beef meatballs shrink and get filmy. A combination of two or three types of meat will improve the texture and help the meatballs retain their shape and size. Some people fry or saute their meatballs, but I prefer to bake. Baking cuts down on time, mess and calories and allows you to make big batches for freezing.
The other necessary caveat is breadcrumb use. I like to use plain whole wheat breadcrumbs for meatballs. I like to add and control my own seasoning and I don’t like that alot of the ‘seasoned’ ones add salt. The perfect amount of breadcrumbs varies from batch to batch. That is why it is essential to mix with your hands. The mixture should feel sticky but not wet and should not feel grainy or mealy. My recipe calls for a range of breadcrumbs, I recommend adding a bit at a time to ensure a thorough mix.
How to Freeze: Once cooled, freeze meatballs in a ziplock freezer bag. Squeeze out all remaining air and seal. Make sure to label! Alternatively you could wrap the meatballs in foil and then place in a freezer bag.
How to Thaw: You can just throw the bag of meatballs in the refrigerator in the morning and they will be thawed by dinnertime. Alternatively you can toss frozen meatballs in a pot of sauce and simmer for 20 minutes or so. Finally, microwave defrosting is ok, but not recommended as it can make them more rubbery.
- 1lb 90% lean ground sirloin (93% is best if you can find it)
- 1lb ground pork
- 1 medium yellow onion, minced or pureed
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tbsp dried basil
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, washed and finely chopped
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1-1.5 cups whole wheat breadcrumbs (unseasoned)
- Preheat oven to 350
- In a mixing bowl, combine meat, onion, garlic, egg, cheese, basil and parsley with ½ cup of breadcrumbs
- Gently mix everything together BY HAND
- Add another ½ cup of breadcrumbs slowly, contining to gently combine the ingredients
- Mixture should be wet but not sticking to your hands. Add additional breadcrumbs if the mix feels too watery or wet.
- Once mixture is integrated, roll mix into golf ball sized balls. Be careful not to overwork
- Place finished balls on a lightly greased cookie sheet
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, until meatballs brown and begin to crisp
- Remove from heat and allow to cool
- Serve some with sauce
- Place cool meatballs in a ziplock freezer bag and label
- Freeze for up to 3 months