Oct 11, 2014

Homemade Frozen Meatballs



For me, pasta and meatballs is the ultimate comfort food.  For years I relied on bags of store-bought frozen meatballs, or just made meat sauce instead, because of the time it took to make homemade meatballs.  But, a few years ago I realized that if I made a big batch and froze them I could have several quick, easy meals for the work of one. There was no going back.



If you want the recipe without all the chatter, I get that.  Just scroll on down to the bottom.  The rest of us will take the back road.




Start out by mixing 1 pound of ground beef and 1 pound of Italian sausage in a large mixing bowl. If you are feeling feisty (I usually am,) go for the hot sausage. You can also use ground turkey instead of the beef, but I suggest upping the amount of spices and herbs to lend more flavor to the bland meat.

Use your hands to mix the meats together really well.  If you are like me and touching meat eeks you out, I apologize right now. There's gonna be a lot of meat touching going on in the next few minutes.

All right, let start piling in some flavor.

Today I'm using mostly fresh herbs. If you prefer dried, that's perfect too. A handy rule is 1 Tbs fresh equals 1 tsp. dried. So, you don't even need to be a math genius to make the switch.

Toss in 1 tsp. of garlic powder and 1 1/2 Tbs. of minced garlic.  I KNOW!  Two kinds of garlic!


Add 1/4 cup of finely chopped parsley.  Yeah, it seems like a lot of what is usually just a garnish, but trust me on this.  It's gonna be so worth it.

Alright, let's get to those yummy herbs. Add 2 Tbs each of thyme, oregano and basal (if you are using fresh.  I actually used dried basal because it's what I had.)

Finish off the seasonings with one tsp. each of salt and black pepper.

Now toss in one entire diced onion.

Here's the best part. Add 1/2 cup of shaved parmesan, or another hard Italian cheese.  I'm skipping this part because I'm still doing my 30-day dairy elimination diet.  So, you do it for me.  In fact, if you care about me at all you'd add some asiago.  Or some pecorino romano.  What I'm saying is, cheese is love.

Mix it all together.  It's important to blend all the flavors together, so really dig in.  Again, I apologize.



Ok, time for liquids.  Right up front... yes, it seems like a lot of liquid.  Just go with it.  We are gonna balance it out in a minute.

Add 1/4 cup of milk (unsweetened almond milk for me,) 2 eggs and 1 Tbs of olive oil.

Mix it all together again.  This is the worst one, I promise.


What you have now it kinda sloppy and gross. It's fine.  Bread crumbs are going to bring us back to the right texture.

I use packaged bread crumbs, but it you prefer homemade bread crumbs, well you are more awesome than I am. So, congrats on that. This is also a good way to use up those water crackers that no one likes but that always make up half of every cracker assortment.  I don't know why they do that. Put in more of the wheat ones please, cracker folks.

I digress.  A lot.

Start out by adding 1 cup of bread crumbs.  It probably won't be enough but we don't want to dry out the mixture too much.

Start mixing again (I'm still sorry.)  As you work in the bread crumbs, add more as needed, up to an extra 1/2 cup.  You want it to be moist and clumpy so it holds together well.



Let's roll.  Meatballs, that is.

Pinch off enough of the mixture to make a golf ball sized ball and roll it up.

Line up the meatballs on a parchment lined cookie sheet.


You'll have approximately 45 meatballs.  I usually serve 3 - 4 in a bowl of pasta. So for the husband and I, one batch will make 6 - 7 meals.

Just stick the entire cookie sheet in the freezer overnight. In the morning, remove the frozen balls from the parchment and store them in a freezer bag until you need them. When you are ready for them, just remove the amount you need.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes if thawed or 30 minutes if frozen.

I like them in a bowl of no-frills pasta and marinara, but they are also excellent on meatball subs and whatever else you could dream up.



Recipe:  

1 lb. Italian sausage
1 lb. ground beef
1 onion
1 1/2 Tbs. minced garlic
1 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbs. thyme
2 Tbs. oregano
2 Tbs. basal
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 cup shaved parmesan or other hard cheese (optional)
1 1/2 cup bread crumbs

  • In a large mixing bowl, blend together ground meat and Italian sausage
  • Add in minced garlic, garlic powder, thyme, oregano, basal, parsley, salt, pepper and cheese.
  • Mix well until everything is well incorporated. 
  • Add eggs, milk and olive oil.  Mix well.
  • Add 1 cup bread crumbs. 
  • Mix well, slowly adding additional 1/2 cup of bread crumbs if needed to reach the desired consistency.  Mixture should be moist and hold it's shape easily.
  • Roll into golf ball-sized balls and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
  • Freeze overnight and then store in a freezer bag until needed. 
  • Bake at 350 for 20 minutes if thawed or 30 minutes if frozen.

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