Simple meals - meatball recipe - how to make meat balls
Simple meat balls
This recipe requires a frying pan and oil or fat. This can get VERY HOT. Please take care.
This recipe also uses raw meat (minced steak or ground beef). Please ensure you wash your hands thoroughly, straight after touching raw meat.
You will need 1 pint of boiling water to dissolve your stock cube. This is VERY HOT.
You won't get any cordon bleu recipes fed to you in my house. But what you will get are simple, healthy, nutritious meals that will feed you and your family or friends economically and in these days of financial troubles, economy is a very important word.
One of the important things to learn about these simple meals is that I have learned them by trial and error and they have been practised on three children, one husband, three grandchildren and quite a lot of other family, friends and visitors. If you are just starting out learning how to provide meals for yourself or your family, these simple meals will help you stretch out your budget and also show you how to manage all the different parts of the meal without something being burnt, while another thing boils over and the rest is uncooked!
Cooking OIL or FAT?
Since I first wrote this recipe, my daughter and her husband have decided to use solid fats only for cooking. These are the fats that are solid at room temperature, instead of vegetable oil or olive oil or sunflower oil or anything similar, which is liquid at room temperature (well it is in our temperate climate anyway). I have added a bit in about using solid fats, if you want to, at all relevant points in the recipe. It is your choice whether you use oil or fat for cooking. My preferences are to use olive oil for salads and these days, I use butter or goose dripping for this type of meal, whereas I used to use olive oil or sunflower oil. The taste is not a lot different whichever you use (though if you use coconut oil, there will definitely be a taste difference).
Onion and Garlic
Ingredients to feed 4 adults with good appetites
1 onion, preferably medium size or half a large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves finely chopped (optional if you don't like garlic, or add a little more if you love it)
1 teaspoon of dried mixed herbs
Salt and pepper to taste
1.5 lbs of minced steak or finely minced ground beef.
1 beef stock cube
1 pint of boiling water to dissolve the stock cube (TAKE CARE)
Gravy powder for thickening the gravy at the end
You may need a few porridge oats OR a little flour OR a few breadcrumbs to hold the mixture together if it is too "wet".
A little oil for frying - about 2 tablespoons
EDIT: Since writing this first, my daughter has decided that she and her husband will not be using vegetable oils in their food any more, so I now use EITHER a knob of butter OR a knob of goose fat, which are the two of the three solid fats I have in the house (coconut oil is the third, but i don't use that for this recipe).
Basin for mixing
Knife for chopping
Nice to have but not essential
Food processor to chop your onions and garlic.
Chop the Onions and garlic together
Add your dried herbs
Add the minced steak to the onions and herbs
Method for making meat balls
1. Finely chop the onion and garlic together and put it in a bowl. You can use a food processor or just use a knife and chop it all up finely.
2. Add the teaspoonful of dried mixed herbs and salt and pepper. I just use any dried herbs available in the cupboard. Use whichever dried herbs you have available or omit these if you don't like them or don't have any.
3. Add the minced steak (ground beef) and mix everything together. I put all the ingredients in a large stainless steel mixing bowl, you can see the reflections in the side of the bowl!
Get your frying pan ready
Get the frying pan ready
Put the frying pan on the stove, add the cooking oil or the knob of solid fat (such as butter, goose dripping, beef dripping or lard) and set it to heat gently.
Start to make your meat balls
When you have mixed all the ingredients together, you may find they are too "wet" to hold together as meatballs. You will know if this is happening if you try to squeeze the meat and onion mixture together into a "ball" and it keeps falling apart on you. (You can give up making meatballs at this stage and just tip the whole lot into the frying pan to make a Bolognese type meat sauce, but don't give up just yet, if you want to make meatballs.)
If the mixture is too "wet" (probably a little too much onion, which has added a lot of juice), you can add something to balance the moisture content, without affecting the flavour. You can use a handful of porridge oats, OR a little flour, OR a handful of breadcrumbs. I wouldn't suggest adding too much of these because they can reduce the flavour but if you really need to economise and feed more people than suggested - a few more oats or breadcrumbs will help make these meatballs more substantial. Warning: if you add too many, the mixture will become too dry and won't hold together. If this happens, add a bit of beaten egg to moisten the contents.
Meatballs in the frying pan
Roll into meat balls
Form the mixture into balls. You can make these large or small, as you wish. I prefer to make smaller meatballs for the following reasons:
- Smaller meatballs cook more quickly, which means you are less likely to find uncooked pink meat in the middle, while the outside is burnt!
- People seem to feel they have got more when they have 2 or 3 smaller meatballs on their plate, rather than 1 larger one.
- You can divide out the meatballs according to appetite or whether you have small children to feed.
I tend to make 12 meatballs with this amount of mixture. That gives 4 adults 3 meatballs each. I find that 2 meatballs are usually enough for a child.
Put the meatballs in the frying pan and cook the first side until the meat is lightly browned (ok, sometimes my meat gets darkly browned. This won't hurt as long as it's not too dark). This will just take a couple of minutes. Turn the meatballs so the second side gets lightly browned too.
Meatballs - second side getting browned
Meatballs lightly browned
Stock mixture added for final cooking
Cooking the meatballs
The meat balls are NOT fully cooked at this stage and need more cooking but you have a choice of how to cook them.
In the oven - my preferred method
Lift the browned meatballs out of the frying pan and put them in an oven-proof dish, add a pint of water with a stock cube dissolved in it, cover the dish (I used foil because the lid broke a long time ago) and cook in the oven at gas mark 4 for about 1 hour.
In the frying pan (good alternative)
Drain off the fat from the frying pan (careful, it will be hot) and gently add the water with the stock cube dissolved in it. Do this VERY CAREFULLY. If the pan has been too hot, adding water may cause some to splash out or steam to form. Put a lid on the frying pan (or a large heat-proof plate) and let the meat balls cook over a low heat for about an hour.
Ready to Eat meat balls
Meat Balls ready to eat
The meatballs should be ready to eat but it is best to test one by cutting it in half to ensure that there is no pink meat inside. If there is, the meatballs are not fully cooked - return them to the oven or frying pan and cook them a little longer.
Make up your gravy thickener by following the directions on the packet, (e.g., by mixing about 3 teaspoons of powder with a little water, to make a paste) then add this to the still hot stock to make a thick gravy. This is optional if you don't like thick gravy.
This is a good dish to make up and put in the oven to cook, while you prepare and cook a vegetable to serve with it. You may wish to cook potatoes to go with it - if so, see my recipe for how to boil a potato at http://dreamermeg.hubpages.com/hub/Simple-meals-from-potatoes
You can also cool it and store it in the fridge to reheat later (remember safe storage and reheating practices) or frozen. If you are cooking for yourself or just for two of you, freeze half of the finished product (in its gravy) and you then have your own "ready meal" for next week or for a culinary emergency!