These meatballs are packed full of flavor and are super simple to make for a weeknight dinner!
Italian food is by far my favorite type of food, but for some reason I have never been a huge fan of meatballs. Maybe it is because I was a vegetarian more than half my life? Maybe it is just the word meatball? No idea, but I know I love meatballs now after experimenting and figuring out the ideal recipe. I slightly adapted this recipe. These meatballs are perfectly crispy on the outside but extremely juicy on the inside. They are a star on their own, but they also pair great with your favorite tomato sauce.
Begin by dicing the onion into roughly 1/4 inch pieces. Saute the onion with two teaspoons of olive oil over medium heat for 4-5 minutes. The onions will begin to become very translucent. Add the minced garlic and red pepper flakes to the pan. Stir everything around for 2-3 minutes until the onions just start to have a very light golden color. Remove from the heat and set aside.
The meatballs use very simple ingredients that you most likely have in your fridge and pantry. I have experimented using a mixture of ground beef and ground pork, and it tastes very good, but it doesn’t compare to the mixture of ground beef and ground veal. Sorry, baby cow. I try not to think about the veal process as much as possible…. 😦
Combine the spices, eggs, breadcrumbs, and parmesan with the ground meat. It is best to just get dirty and mix all the ingredients around with your hands. Mix everything for 2-3 minutes with your hands to be sure that the ingredients are evenly distributed within the ground meat. You will notice that the mixture is rather dry and sticks together in large clumps (picture below on the left). This is where the water comes into play. Add the water to the meatball mixture and squish everything around with your hands a few more times until the water is thoroughly combined (picture below on the right).
Once your meat mixture is evenly combined throughout, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil. Begin shaping your meatballs with your hands and rolling them into balls in the palms of your hands. I prefer my meatballs a little bit larger than a golf ball, but not as large as a tennis ball. As you assemble your meatballs, add them to the skillet so that they begin browning. Rotate the meatballs every 3-4 minutes so that they brown on each side. I turn my meatballs over approximately 3 times depending on if I see any sides that are not brown. If you see any places on the meatballs with raw meat showing, be sure to flip them over on that side so that you brown every side of the meatball. The meatballs should now be partially cooked, but not cooked all the way through. The nice brown crust on the meatballs enables the inside of the meatballs to remain nice and juicy.
Line your meatballs on a sheet tray once they are done browning in the skillet. This recipe yields approximately 32 meatballs, and they should all fit on an average size sheet tray.
Bake the meatballs at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Once the meatballs are finished baking in the oven, transfer them to a pot of your favorite tomato sauce, or serve them on their own. The meatballs can simmer in a pot of tomato sauce for a few minutes to lock in tomato sauce flavor, or you can top them with warm tomato sauce in a bowl. Tomato sauce or not, these meatballs are full of flavor and have the most amazing texture.
When I make a batch of these meatballs I usually freeze them in an airtight bag so that I have a serving of meatballs ready to go when I make a homemade tomato sauce.
I hope you enjoy making these meatballs as much as I do! They are super simple and easy to make for a weeknight meal or for a Sunday night dinner with a large crowd. Enjoy!
1 medium yellow onion – diced
1 heaping tbsp. minced garlic
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 pound ground veal
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tbsp. dried or fresh parsley
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup water
Questions for you:
What is your favorite Italian dish? Do you prefer making your own tomato sauce, or using a jar of sauce?