Meatballs are easy to bake and freeze for later to throw in pasta sauce, stuff in a sub sandwich or slice and serve as an appetizer.
I’ve made about a million meatball variations always looking for the ultimate recipe. This gets very confusing and stressful for someone like me who has a particular affinity for easy ratios and streamlined methods, but who regularly falls for anything new and unusual. I should know better. Don’t get me started on the seasoning variations. As often happens, in the end shaking my head, I come crawling back to the simplest version.
For making meatballs (and meatloaf for that matter), all you really need to know is the ratio of meat to egg to breadcrumbs to liquid to salt to one pound of meat. Here’s the all-important answer…1 pound of meat, 1 egg, 1/3 cup dry bread crumbs, 1/3 cup milk or water, 1/2 teaspoon salt. Everything else is fluff.
The recipe is easy to scale up. Yes, you can vary the meat, add cheese or seasonings, whatever, but don’t go too wild. More seasonings make cluttered meatballs, not better meatballs. The basic ratios matter most. It’s especially handy to know that when seasoning raw meat, you need 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt per pound.
Bake the meatballs in the oven or brown them in a skillet with a finishing simmer in your red sauce. We often bake a big batch and freeze them. They’re easy to reheat in the microwave to serve as an easy appetizer or toss in your favorite bottled red sauce for an easy supper. Or, take a few moments and make our Cheater Chef Tomato Sauce. It freezes well so make extra and store in small batches for easy use later.
- 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup milk or water
- 1 egg beaten
- 1 pound ground chuck (or substitute other meats such as ground lamb, veal or pork, a mixture is nice)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 clove garlic, smashed and minced
Heat the oven to 350° F.
Combine the bread crumbs and milk or water in a large mixing bowl. Let sit a few minutes.
Add the egg and stir until well blended. Add the remaining ingredients, mixing with your clean hands until well blended.
Form the mixture into 1 1/2-inches to 2-inch balls and place on a baking sheet.
Bake about 30 minutes. The meatballs should be nicely browned with an internal temperature of at least 165°F. Makes about 12.
Easy Addition Amounts for 1 Pound of Meat:
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan, pecorino or romano cheese
1/4 cup grated onion (use a box grater so the onion is very finely minced)
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika