Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Meatballs with Sauces for Appetizer or Main Dish

Here is my favorite recipe for meatballs with various sauces.   This recipe makes light and tasty little meatballs that are great appetizers especially in a favorite sauce. They are also delicious additions to spaghetti or soup. These are good served  over rice and veggies drizzled in a sweet and sour sauce too! I like making these for appetizers with an easy sauce. I have included a couple different ways to serve these tasty meatballs at the end of the recipe. My favorite is the simple Saucy Meatball Appetizer. This is easy to make a usually a hit. I know that grape jelly seems like an odd inclusion but it really does work. If you want it even simpler just use the jelly and chili sauce, which is a popular recipe found many places.

I have been hesitant to put this recipe up here because it has so many optional ideas but if you are okay with making some choices I think you will enjoy the basic ideas here!  :-) 

This recipe is meant to be a guideline, feel free to adjust and play with it.  It makes a large amount but it can easily be cut down or increased. The recipe calls for 1 lb of meat and 1/3 of each of the other ingredient so it is easy to adjust the amount. These freeze very well, both cooked and uncooked! So it is a good idea to make the full recipe and keep some on hand for a quick meal later!

Meatballs with  Sauces for Appetizer or Main Dish

3 lb. ground meat I prefer ground beef, 90% lean (It is optional to substitute ½ to1 lb or more lean turkey or chicken or sausage in mix.)

2 -3   eggs -- well beaten
1-1 ½   cup panko bread crumbs, dried or fresh bread crumbs* or cracker crumbs,--Whole grain choices work great!
2 TBSP water
 2- 3    cloves garlic, pressed or minced, or 2 tsp crushed garlic paste
1 onion, minced, ( skip if you hate onion J )
½  cup or so  ketchup
  2 -3  tsp  salt or seasoning salt (less if you add salty cheese or soy sauce or if you want lower sodium)
 1 ½ - 2   tsp ground pepper
  2 tsp dried herbs, thyme and marjoram, or any desired  herb blend (Greek, Italian, Asian whatever flavor you need) or use 3 TBSP fresh herbs if desired
Optional add-ins---Choose one or more of these if you like, but make sure they are go well together and compliment the flavor you are hoping to achieve and the sauce you use.
1/2   bell pepper, minced – optional
3 TBSP Fresh parsley mint or basil, minced
 1- 2   tsp onion powder
            1/2 tsp Nutmeg, freshly grated
           3 tsp+ Worcestershire sauce
3 tsp +soy or teriyaki sauce
1-2+  tsp, crushed red pepper
1-2+ tsp of hot sauce or Sriracha
3 tsp ginger paste
            2-3  tsp. balsamic vinegar

    Mix all ingredients except meat in a very large bowl. As soon as everything is well blended, mix in meat and blend thoroughly but gently. It is best to use your hands rather than a spoon for this. I put on food service gloves but clean hands are fine. Do not over mix or mixture will be tough.

 Preheat oven to 400 degrees or use convection oven at 375 F,  

Using small scoop or spoon, gently form 1 to  1  ½ " balls.  The size can be adjusted to how you are using them. Scoop half to full scoop and slightly press it into scoop and move it around a few times.  Keep it light, don’t smash or press too firmly.

Cover a baking sheet in foil or parchment paper. Place the meatballs on baking sheet; they can be close but not touching.

 Bake about 15 minutes until browned and firm but, not too dry.  Check inside one or use thermometer to make sure they are done.

You may also cook in a fry pan with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking. Over medium heat add oil and meatballs.  Don’t overcrowd pan and don’t turn often, just let them brown and then turn.

 Generally this will make somewhere around 60 meatballs.

Once they are cooked you may place them in whatever sauce you choose or you can serve these with a warm barbeque or sweet and sour sauce to dip in.


ITALIAN VARIATION- Try 2 lbs. beef and 1 lb. hot or sweet Italian sausage.  If desired,  add and 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, an extra tsp. of Italian seasoning, 1-2 extra cloves of garlic, and perhaps a 1 tsp. crushed fennel seed , optionally, to the meatball recipe.   I use these with a marinara or other tomato based sauce.  I like Italian style with spaghetti or other pasta or as a nice sandwich with melted mozzarella.

   SAUCY MEATBALL APPETIZER- This recipe can be increased just use 1 lb. of meat or one third of the total recipe per this amount of sauce. If using the whole meatball recipe then triple the sauce amounts.  Combine the following in large pot or a slow-cooker and cook until bubbly---    - 1/3 to ½ cup chili sauce, 10 oz. grape jelly, ¼ to 1/3 cup barbeque sauce, 1/2  tsp smoked paprika and ½ tsp garlic powder or 1 tsp of garlic paste. If you want it spicier you could use 1-2 tsp of Asian garlic chili paste or 1 tsp or a few drops of Sriracha . Heat cooked meatballs in sauce. Serve warm from crock pot or pan.

CRANBERRY SPICY- SWEET MEATBALLS- Make a batch of meatballs but use only about half  or less of the onion, herbs and garlic in the meatball mix. These are nice with plenty of parsley in the meatball mix. Then use half of the meat balls for this dish and freeze the rest. Combine the following in large pot or a slow-cooker: 1Tbsp. brown sugar, 2  tsp. lemon juice, 1-2 tsp. balsamic vinegar, 1 16 oz. can jellied cranberry sauce, 1 cup chili sauce, 1-2 tsp Sriracha,  1 tsp or more ginger paste, optional.   Serve as appetizer or over rice.

Dried Bread Crumbs --To make dried bread crumbs, use French, Italian or other bread that is slightly stale. Slice and cube. Heat in the oven until fairly dry or toast carefully under broiler. Break into fine crumbs in food processor or by hand. You may wish to add a couple tsp. of dried herbs to season them. Store cooled crumbs in air tight container. You may freeze them.

TO FREEZE MEATBALLS- Place cooked or raw meatballs on a cookie sheet lightly cover them with plastic wrap or clean foil. Place on freezer shelf until frozen. If using foil you may wrap them up in foil (which you could later use for reheating)  and then package in Ziploc freezer bags  and store for up to three months. To Thaw, unwrapped and lay uncooked meatballs on a tray in fridge and then bake. Allow cooked meatballs to thaw partially then heat them in sauce or for a few minutes until hot in oven . 

Recipe By Denise Birdsall

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