Spicy Meatballs – and not from that old TV ad!

Ah – blogging once more – hopefully I can stay back at it for a while! Actually, I think I am getting close to finally taking a running leap and making food service a career. I am thinking Personal Chef or the like. I am looking into joining the Personal Chef Network for support. I must say that learning about the local https://www.grandmaschickensoup.com/ lady from Wakefield MA is very inspiring, too. I want to cook, write about cooking, and share good food with others.

But – in the meantime – here I am actually posting again!

So, I’ve been making meatballs for a while. They are tasty – baked to lower the fat content, and containing diced onion and green pepper and some grated then chopped carrot – and an egg and oatmeal . When Steve was still having reactions from eggs and I was not using them, I would grind flax seed to get that binding thing going. No difference in taste or texture, but I started using eggs once Steve could handle them because it is way easier and less messy than grinding flax seeds!

I know that all sounds way too healthy to taste good, but they are quite tasty, as I said above. I have a committed carnivore husband as a quality control person, remember? [grin] – but Steve started saying he wanted “spicy” meatballs. Okay – so I started by searching for and then selecting a recipe for Spicy meatballs online.
Click HERE to see what I picked as a base. I added veggies and stuff – so this was just the starter recipe. But, one must start somewhere….(with apologies to Paul Valéry)

BUT, while poking around, I also found another recipe on the Cooks’s Country website that suggests using part sweet sausage meat “for a more intense pork flavor.” This is suggested as being more effective than using plain ol’ ground pork.

Their recipe called for 2 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck (80 percent lean) to 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed.

AND – I kept coming across recipes saying to soak fresh bread crumbs in milk to make a paste….It was time for me to experiment!

The first time, I totally guessed and bought and used two sausages – turns out that is about ½ a pound if you buy them at The Farmland, my FAVORITE market. And, I soaked breadcrumbs in milk, but, I am not sure if they were fresh or dry or of the proportions. That will teach me not to write things down when I cook!

But, bottom line is – the meatballs came out most excellent!!!! Not to be a Rachel wannabe, but YUMMO.

However, I didn’t write down what I did – and I did adjust the recipes…SO, here is what I did the NEXT time:

1 lb ground beef (I actually had in the freezer a pound of beef that I had ground myself in the food processor a few weeks ago from chuck or the like that was on BIG sale. – my next option is ground beef from Farmland because they grind their own – so not from many cows.)

½ pound sweet sausage (I had forgotten whether I should get sweet or hot sausage and when I explained to the gentleman behind the counter at Farmland, he told me I wanted sweet sausage and that they had it available to buy all ground but not yet in the casing. That was easy! I got ½ a pound since I liked that proportion the last time.)

3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
½ cup milk
½ cup oatmeal
¼ cup grated and chopped carrot
¼ cup diced onion
1 egg
2 tsp Worcester sauce
2 tsp dry mustard
½ tsp fresh ground pepper (well, 50-60 twists)
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp hot pepper sauce (Tabasco or the like)
1 tsp chili garlic sauce

I started by mixing the breadcrumbs and milk first and letting them sit while I did the rest of the prep. I put everything but the meat into a smaller bowl and mixed it up – then added the soaked breadcrumbs and then mixed it all with the meat.

It made 15 meatballs around 2 ½ + inches in diameter. To bake – in a regular oven, I would preheat to say 375 or so, place the meatballs on a cookie rack over a cookie sheet or on a broiler pan, and bake for 30 or so minutes, turning once at 15 minutes – then check the internal temperature of one of the meatballs to make sure it is close to 160. You might need to adjust cooking time and temperature.

You see, I have one of those Krups toaster/convection ovens (this was a $200 investment but WELL worth it! It makes great toast, works great as a regular oven, and the convection option is super.) I usually do meatballs on convection at 350 for 30 minutes, turjing at 15 minutes – although I did this batch at 400 for the first 7 minutes. They were bigger than I usually make. But, just bake them until they are brown and a little crisp and have a safe internal temperature. Although, they get more cooked if you put them to simmer in sauce for a while. FYI – I used a 26 oz jar of prepared sauce and had to keep back 4 of the meatballs since I made no extra sauce this time. Now I have to find the recipe I used for quick but REALLY great sauce from diced tomatoes, etc., that I used last time! It was better than the one I have from Cook’s illustrated.

BOTTOM LINE: They were very good – excellent, even. And, as spicy as my husband had imagined and wanted. BUT, I liked the texture of my first try better. And I know why. Turns out I did use breadcrumbs from fresh (well, day old but not dried out) bread the first time.
So – next time, I will use fresh bread crumbs. No, I don’t know how much or the amount of milk! I am trying to remember……But I am convinced that it will make the texture softer without decreasing the firmness, and adding a touch of smoothiness/creaminess…

Hopefully I’ll remember to post subsequent experiments! : )