My favorite technique for preparing homemade meatballs also happens to be incredibly simple. These are my three tips for delicious¬ meatballs that are browned on the outside and tender on the inside:
Secret #1: Most meatball recipes call for raw onion to be added to the mixture, but I prefer to saute the onion in butter first along with a little minced garlic. This pre-cooking step allows the onion and garlic to “melt” into the mixture as the meatballs cook, resulting in a pleasing caramelized flavor.
Secret #2: I like to use a blend of half Italian sausage and half ground beef. The Italian sausage adds a little zing (and admittedly, a little extra fat) to the ground beef, taking the meatballs from sodden to spectacular.
Secret #3:† Instead of laboriously trying to evenly brown the meatballs on all sides and dealing with spattering fat in a frying pan, I simply shape them and bake them in a hot oven. After just 20 minutes, they’re miraculously browned and perfectly cooked inside.
Shall we make some beautiful meatballs together?
To begin, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a skillet over medium heat and cook 1/4 cup chopped onion just until it turns translucent. Add 1 clove minced garlic and continue cooking for about 90 seconds, until the mixture barely begins to brown. Remove from heat and reserve.
Next, combine a half pound each of ground Italian sausage and ground beef, 1 piece of fresh bread processed into crumbs, an egg, a teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper in a large bowl until well combined.
(No matter how hard you try, it’s hard to make a bowl of meatball mixture look photogenic.)
Use a tablespoon to shape the mixture into meatballs.
Arrange on a foil-lined baking sheet.
Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven until browned and cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool. You can see how the onion becomes¬†caramelized after cooking. Yum.
At this point you can add the meatballs to a spaghetti sauce like I did in the photo at the top of this post, and serve over spaghetti.
Or, you can toast some buns, sprinkle with a little Parmesan cheese, and make meatball sandwiches.
You can also freeze the cooled meatballs, tightly wrapped, for up to 3 months.
Here’s the complete recipe:
Mama Eliza’s Easy Baked Meatballs
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 large or 2 small cloves garlic
1/2 pound bulk Italian sausage
1/2 pound ground beef (I like ground chuck for this recipe)
1 piece of bread
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly grease or spray with cooking spray.
Heat the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. When it melts, add the onion and cook until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 90 seconds. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, mix together the sausage and ground beef. Pulse the bread in a food processor or blender to make crumbs and sprinkle over the meat mixture. Add the onion mixture, egg, salt, and pepper and combine until well blended.
Use a tablespoon to form the mixture into balls. Arrange on the prepared baking sheet and bake until the meatballs are lightly browned and cooked all the way through, about 20 minutes. Cool the baking sheet on a wire rack. Makes about 18 to 20 meatballs.
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