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Simple meals - meatball recipe - how to make meat balls

Updated on June 12, 2013
Simple meat balls - cooked and ready to eat.
Simple meat balls - cooked and ready to eat. | Source

Simple meat balls

SAFETY WARNINGS

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.

SIMPLE recipes

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

1 onion and some garlic
1 onion and some garlic | Source

Ingredients

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

Extras

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).

Utensils

Frying pan

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

Onions and garlic chopped ready to be put into the food processor
Onions and garlic chopped ready to be put into the food processor | Source

Add your dried herbs

Add a teaspoonful of dried herbs
Add a teaspoonful of dried herbs | Source

Add the minced steak to the onions and herbs

Minced beef added to onion, garlic and herb mixture
Minced beef added to onion, garlic and herb mixture | Source

Method for making meat balls

Method

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

Put the frying pan on the stove with a little oil in it and start it heating, GENTLY - TAKE CARE
Put the frying pan on the stove with a little oil in it and start it heating, GENTLY - TAKE CARE | Source

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

The meat, onions, garlic and herbs are all mixed up together.
The meat, onions, garlic and herbs are all mixed up together. | Source

Making meatballs

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

Fry the meat balls gently on both sides to lightly brown them.
Fry the meat balls gently on both sides to lightly brown them. | Source

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

meat balls browned on both sides to give a good colour
meat balls browned on both sides to give a good colour | Source

Meatballs lightly browned

Meatballs lightly browned and transferred to heat-proof dish for final cooking
Meatballs lightly browned and transferred to heat-proof dish for final cooking | Source

Stock mixture added for final cooking

Add a pint of stock made from a stock cube and a pint of boiling water
Add a pint of stock made from a stock cube and a pint of boiling water | Source

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

The finished dish - meat balls in gravy
The finished dish - meat balls in gravy | Source

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!

Your favourite meat balls?

Do you like meat balls for your main meal of the day?

See results

Do you like meat balls? What are your thoughts?

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    • norlawrence profile image

      Norma Lawrence 9 months ago from California

      Thanks. Well have to try. Love meatballs

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 12 months ago from Northern Ireland

      Thank you for reading and commenting Norlawrence

    • norlawrence profile image

      Norma Lawrence 12 months ago from California

      Great recipe. Will have to try it. Thanks

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 13 months ago from Northern Ireland

      Thank you Patricia. Hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 13 months ago from sunny Florida

      Enjoy making meatballs...your recipe sounds tempting..will be giving this a try soon.

      Pinning

      Angels are on the way to you this morning ps

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 16 months ago from Northern Ireland

      Meatballs are very tasty and they go well with most things, including pasta. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 16 months ago from England

      I love meatballs, I eat them pretty much a couple of times a week with pasta, so this is great? thanks, nell

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 17 months ago from Northern Ireland

      I'm glad you recognise good meatballs when you see them @CoralLevang, LOL. Thanks @RoadMonkey

    • RoadMonkey profile image

      RoadMonkey 17 months ago

      An author on hubpages is called a hubber. An article is a hub. Or a hub is an article, LOL.

    • profile image

      Coral Levang 18 months ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

      I suppose that I have now found where I can leave a message. I am still not sure what the difference between a hub and an article is, or an author and the hubber, but I do know a good meatball when I see it!

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 21 months ago from Northern Ireland

      Thank you very much. Hope you enjoy them.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I don't usually read recipe articles, but I love meatballs so much I just had to stop by. Thank you for the recipe, one we are sure to try.

    • RoadMonkey profile image

      RoadMonkey 2 years ago

      We love mince and meatballs.

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 2 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Mince is a great meal and very easy, even easier than meatballs!

    • RoadMonkey profile image

      RoadMonkey 2 years ago

      Thanks. It's on our menu at least once a week, summer or winter.

    • Suzanne Day profile image

      Suzanne Day 2 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      This looks like a great winter warmer for people on a budget! I'm a big fan of mince and fat if you have a reduced shopping budget and it's good for growing kids too. Voted useful ;)

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 2 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Thank you very much. I hope you enjoy them.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I've eaten meatballs bought from a store, but I've never made them myself. Thanks for the recipe. Your meatballs sound much better than the ones that I've eaten in the past!

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 2 years ago from Northern Ireland

      All my meals are usually experiments. Often they work the first time and maybe not subsequently! My husband prefers the tried and true.

    • LadyFiddler profile image

      Joanna Chandler 2 years ago from On planet Earth

      LOL so you experimented your meals on the three kids and one husband? ha ha ha . Cool hub and i love meatballs but never made it personally so when i am ready to i'll check your hub out as it has good guidelines.

      Thanks for sharing :)

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 3 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Hope you enjoy them. Thanks for visiting.

    • sparkleyfinger profile image

      Lynsey Harte 3 years ago from Glasgow

      Tasty sounding recipe' can't wait to try it!

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 3 years ago from Northern Ireland

      That would be a tasty change. Thanks for visiting.

    • David Carl profile image

      David Carl 3 years ago from New York

      Thank you for the meatball recipe. We have gotten out the habit of making them ourselves. My gramma made them all the time, as did my mother. I always loved the crispy crust on the outside. I am sure they were cooked in bacon fat too.

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 3 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Yes, hadn't actually thought of them as finger foods but you're right. I might just have to find an occasion to use them that way. :) Thanks for visiting and commenting.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 3 years ago from Minnesota

      Sounds like a delicious recipe for meatballs. I think I'll add this to the mix of finger foods for my new years eve gathering tonight. Thanks so much for the great information and the photo's to go with it.

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 3 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Thanks for visiting. Meatballs are a favourite in this house.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      I love meatballs, so this recipe is great thank you, now its bookmarked as I always buy them ready made! voted up!

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 3 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Thank you for visiting. Hope you enjoy them.

    • JPSO138 profile image

      JPSO138 3 years ago from Cebu, Philippines, International

      I have tried making meatballs but it was more of the dry one. I will surely try this recipe as it looks very tempting. Thanks for sharing this.

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 3 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Thank you for visiting. Apparently cooked oils get trans fats in them, which is NOT healthy. We outselves have now gone back to solid fats for cooking, though I would use olive oil for dressings.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      This sounds and looks like a really good recipe. I have never had meatballs in gravy - being half Italian I always use them in tomato sauce. Also, my recipe calls for more bread crumbs than yours. I will have to try this sometime. I am just curious as to why your daughter and her husband have gone back to solid fat instead of using oils. I thought the oils were healthier for the arteries - better for cholesterol in the body. I have gone to using all oils even in baking because it is healthier. To each his own! LOL

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 3 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Thanks for visiting and for your comment.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      These look so delicious. I have never made meatballs in gravy. I will definitely try it. Also, I'm not familiar with goose fat. Very interesting. Thank you for such an awesome recipe.

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 3 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Thank you. We will be having them again tonight, too. Probably with tomato puree on them, as a change.

    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 3 years ago

      I love meatballs, such a satisfying simple meal. Thank you for this recipe which I will be trying tonight.

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 4 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Thank you. I hope you enjoy it.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Lovely and simple recipe. Thanks for sharing.

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 4 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Thank you for visiting.

    • profile image

      ignugent17 4 years ago

      Looks good! Thanks for sharing your recipe. :-)

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 4 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Thanks Ghaelach. Glad to know others enjoy them too!

    • profile image

      Ghaelach 4 years ago

      Hello Meg.

      Don't have them every day, but still love them.

      Living over here in Düsseldorf Germany where your little meat balls are a common bite.

      They call them Frikadella's here, but are basically the same although flattened a bit like a burger, but much tastier.

      Thanks for sharing.

      Take care and have a nice evening.

      LOL Ghaelach

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 4 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Thank you very much for your kind comment

    • rjsadowski profile image

      rjsadowski 4 years ago

      Meatballs are always tasty and I like your use of gravy rather than tomato sauce. Your pictures are very useful and the ones with the browned meatballs make my mouth water.