I make meatballs a lot. Mainly because Allan would eat spaghetti every single meal for the rest of his natural life, and beyond, if he had a say in it.
As you can tell from the picture, which clearly shows rigatoni and not spaghetti, spaghetti is more of a concept than an accurate description in this house. The pasta shape is determined about ten minutes before serving the meal, as Allan likes to choose which pasta he wants with the tomato sauce, depending on how hungry he is at the time.
I don’t use a recipe for meatballs generally, though I do use Michael Smith’s recipe as a base, in that I use milk soaked breadcrumbs in them.
And, I do that because every single time it makes me think of the episode of Friends where Ross cracks up over a stolen turkey sandwich containing a slice of bread soaked in gravy, which he refers to as the “Moist Maker”.
I think of the milk soaked breadcrumbs as mini moist makers. It makes me smile everytime. It never seems to get old.
I vary the herbs and spices according to the mood I am in, or what I intend to serve the meatballs with.
If I am serving them in cranberry sauce (don’t grimace, it’s great for Christmas!) then I keep the herbs light.
If the meatballs are destined for a spaghetti sauce then I might add mustard and/or ketchup in the mixture.
Allan isn’t keen on a lot of onion in meatballs, so I keep the onion light. Though on looking at the meatballs I made this morning, there seems to be a lot more onion than I planned, and I only used half of a small onion. I didn’t grate it today which might account for the onion-y look.
These meatballs were made this morning and put into the oven to bake while I took Bob out for a walk. The time they need to bake is the same length of time as Bob’s usual walk. However, this morning, to Bob’s chagrin his walk was cut short as the wind was so strong and the weather so cold that my legs went from burning and stinging with cold to being completely numb in ten minutes.
The recipe below calls for the meatballs to be browned in a pan before cooking through in the sauce. At times I do that, but in the main I bake them in the oven at 350 degrees for around 30 minutes (it all depends on the size of the meatballs) and then add them to the sauce just to heat them through later.
Michael Smith’s Meatballs
• 1/2 cup bread crumbs
• 1/2 cup milk
• 1 pound ground beef
• 1 onion, peeled then grated on a cheese or potato grater
• 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
• 1 egg yolk
• 1 small bunch of parsley, chopped
• 1/2 cup grated parmesan (optional)
• Salt and pepper to taste
• A pinch of nutmeg
• Olive oil
• 2 cups or so of tomato sauce
• 1 pound package of spaghetti
1. Toss the breadcrumbs into a small bowl and pour the milk over them. Stir to combine then set aside the mixture until the crumbs have absorbed all the milk.
2. Place the ground beef into a large bowl and add the grated onion, minced garlic and egg yolk. If you like add the optional Parmesan. Add the breadcrumb mixture, nutmeg and parsley. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and mix well. Form into 8 large meatballs.
3. Pre-heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot add a splash of olive oil, enough to cover the bottom. Add the meatballs. Patiently sear them until they are well browned on all sides. Drain off any excess fat. Add the tomato sauce of your choice and simmer until the meatballs have cooked through about 15 to 20 minutes.