Magnificent Meatball Meals
The Meatball Magnus Opus
I absolutely love meatballs, I am a committed meatball maker, I find most meatball recipes easy, none of them here are hard, I don't think there is such a thing as a hard meatball recipe.
There hasn't been a meatball I haven't liked, in my mind there is nothing so delicious and satisfying as a really good meatball.
I started with the Italian classic, and still my favorite - Meatballs with Spaghetti, but since then I have been on a mission to hunt down the very best meatballs from around the world, I've not finished either, I will continue to add meatball recipes, stories and discoveries to this page until it becomes the world authority on meatballs!
But wait, there's more, here you will learn an amazing connection between meatballs and NASA, how to make a really rich onion gravy, and the frankly bizarre range of meatball inspired objects, toy, decorations and sweets.
To start with I've included Meatballs from the following countries:
The Middle East
Please check back for more, or help me out and recommend your favorite that I can include here.
Along with easy recipes for meatballs, you'll also find information on what a meatball maker machine is, meatball sauce recipes, and whether you should spend your money on a meatball cooker.
Photo Credit Julia's Spicy Meatballs and Spaghetti by avlxy
This is a true classic and a great comfort food dinner, it's simple to make and easy to tweak to your own preferences.
- Prep time: 30 min
- Cook time: 20 min
- Ready in: 50 min
- Yields: 4
- 700 g of pork
- about 50% shoulder
- 25 % gammon and 25% belly
- 2 garlic cloves
- peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 tsp of sea salt
- 1 tsp of granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp of crushed black pepper
- 1 tsp of fennel seeds
- 1/4 tsp dried piri piri chilli flakes
- 2 tbsp of Olive oil
- Tomato Sauce (see seperate recipe)
- 1 lb spaghetti
- Couple of sprigs of Oregano (Or re gaa no
- not Oragno!)
- Freshly grated parmasan cheese
- 1. Trim the pork of any large pieces skin, tissue or fat and then chop into pieces.
- 2. Put the meat into a food processor along with the garlic, salt, pepper, sugar, fennel and chilli.
- 3. Process until relatively smooth - it doesn't need to be a complete puree but nor do you want large pieces of meat or garlic.
- 4. If you like you can now leave the meat, covered, in the fridge overnight, this will help the flavours from the spices and garlic meld with the meat but isn't essential.
- 5. Wash your hands and leave them moist, roll the meat into ping-pong, even sized balls.
- 6. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the meatballs in batches, placing them into an oven proof dish.
- 7. Once all the meatballs are nicely browned, pour the tomato sauce over and drizzle with olive oil.
- 8. Place in a pre-heated oven (350f/180c) for 40 minutes.
- 9. When there is twenty minutes left place the spaghetti in some lightly salted boiling water, cook until al-dente and then drain.
- 10 Serve in large bowls or deep plates, place the meatballs on top of a bed of spaghetti, then ladle the tomato sauce over the meatballs.
- 11. Decorate the dish with some of the oregano, place the Parmesan, grater and a pepper grinder on the table for the guests to help themselves.
Rich Tomato Sauce for Pasta Dishes
This tomato sauce makes a great base for many dishes, including the meatball recipe above.
- Prep time: 15 min
- Cook time: 15 min
- Ready in: 30 min
- Yields: 4-6
- 2 oz Butter
- 1 Onion
- peeled and finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves
- peeled and finely chopped
- 2 lb of ripe tomates
- plum are best
- or to save time you can use 2 x 14oz can of tomatoes in juice
- 3 tbsp sun dried tomato paste
- 2 Oregano sprigs
- 1. In a saucepan melt the butter, once melted and hot add the onion and fry gently for five minutes, then add the garlic and continue to cook over a medium to low heat for another five minutes.
- 2. If you have decided to use fresh tomatoes then you need to peel them, boil some water in a saucepan and then immerse the tomatoes for 30 seconds. Remove the tomatoes and allow to cool for a minute. The skins should have split and be easy to remove. Quarter the tomatoes and then remove the seeds. Finally chop the tomatoes and add them to the onions.
- 3. If using chopped canned tomatoes just add them to the onions, if whole chop them and then add to the onions.
- 4. Add the oregano and tomato paste, stir and then cook uncovered for 25 minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened.
- 5. Remove the oregano sprigs and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Martin Scorsese's mother's Meatball Recipe
Martin Scorsese made a documentary about his parents, Catherine and Charles, called Italian American. In it his mother describes how to make her meatballs, the first video (part one of five) shows Catherine cooking them, the second provides the actual recipe in the credits which can be seen here in this Youtube video at 8:20.
A Food Processor - makes preparing meatballs so much quicker
Ok so Catherine Scorsese never used one I'm sure, but the ability to quickly combine and evenly distribute ingredients is what makes the food processor such a useful kitchen gadget. Slice, shred, grate, blend, kneed bread, and chop, food processors save time and often give better results than doing it by hand.
If you're cooking meatballs you need a good frying pan
It's really no good trying to make do with that old very stick frying pan when making meatballs, if they stick then they will probably break up as you try to scrape them off and the whole experience is ruined. A decent, hard-anodized skillet will last for years and make life so much easier.
We use Anolon, they come endorsed by Michelin starred chef Raymond Blanc in the UK, we have a large which we use for frying just about anything and a smaller one that is fantastic for omelets, a really great buy.
The NASA Meatball Logo
you learn something new every day!
It was only when researching this article about meatballs that I discovered that the famous NASA logo is nicknamed the "meatball".
Of course the meatball was not the official name, in those circles it was simply known as the insignia, The round logo was not given the moniker the "meatball" until 1975, which was when NASA decided they needed a new, modern logo and switched to the "worm"--the red, stylized interpretation of the letters NASA.
Be one step closer to being a real astronaut by drinking your favorite beverage from this unofficial NASA mug
Really classy, what else needs to be said?
Faggots - A classic, old-fashioned british meatball
Britain's answer to the meatball is the Faggot, a delicious way of using up off-cuts of meat and offal to create a frugal meal. Harking back to the mid 19th century it was a popular dish in Wales and the Midlands where they are sometimes known as Ducks or Savoury Ducks.
The traditional meal consists of mashed potatoes, peas and an onion gravy.
- Prep time: 1 hour
- Cook time: 30 min
- Ready in: 1 hour 30 min
- Yields: 4
- 1 oz butter
- 1 medium onion
- peeled and chopped finely
- 6 oz pigs' liver finely chopped or minced
- 2 pigs hearts
- trimmed and finely chopped or minced
- 1 lb pork belly
- rind removed and finely chopped or minced
- 1/2 tsp mace
- 4 tbsp fresh chopped chives
- 1 tsp fresh chopped sage
- 1 medium egg
- salt and plenty of ground pepper
- 4 oz fresh breadcrumbs
- 1 oz beef dripping or sunflower oil
- 1. In a small saucepan cook the onions in the butter until soft and translucent, set aside
- 2. Place the pigs' liver into a large bowl, add the pork belly and pigs hearts.
- 3. Add the cooled onions, mace, chives, sage, egg, breadcrumbs and salt an pepper, mix well.
- 4. Shape the meat mixture into balls, traditionally faggots are larger than Italian meatballs, a little smaller than a tennis ball, place on a plate, cover and chill in a fridge for an hour.
- 5. Prepare the onion gravy (see below).
- 6. While the onion gravy is being made heat the dripping or sunflower oil in a large frying pan, when hot fry the faggots until golden brown all over, don't worry if they don't stay round but try to get a nice even color.
- 7. Put the faggots into a lidded roasting dish or crock and pour the onion gravy over the top.
- 8. Reduce the oven temperature to 350F/180C/Gas mark 4 and cook for 40 minutes.
- 9. Divide the faggots evenly onto each plate, ladle over the onion gravy.
- 10. Serve with mash potato or mashed carrot and swede, and some green vegetables such as fine greens beans or peas.
Rich onion gravy
This is a lovely rich onion gravy that is suitable for many traditional British dishes such as faggots, sausages and mash or toad in the hole. The onions once caramelized add a wonderful sweetness as well as a rich brown color.
Prep Time: 10
Total Time: 50
- 4 Onions
- peeled and sliced into rings
- 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 tbsp of sunflower oil
- 1 1/2 pint of beef stock
- 1/2 pint of red wine
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1. Pre-heat the oven to 400F/200C/Gas Mark 6
- 2. Place the onion rings into a dish or tray that is suitable for both the oven and the hob.
- 3. Add the thyme and drizzle with the sunflower oil.
- 4. Place in the oven and roast for 40 minutes or until the onions are caramelized
- 5. Place the stock and the wine in a sauce pan and boil until reduced by a third.
- 6 Remove the caramelized onions tray from the oven and place on the hob over a low heat, pour over the stock and wine reduction and deglaze the pan, using a wooden spoon or spatula to ensure all the caramelized onions are loosened.
- 7. Either poor the gravy, onions an all into a gravy boat to serve at the table or ladle directly over the dish that the gravy is the accompaniment for.
Want to grind or mince your own meat?
Having the chance to grind your own meat means you can trim it of all the fat if you like (although a little left on certainly improves the flavor), some meat such as chicken is not always easy to find minced either. it also means you can do without a food processor for many types of meatball. I'm sure many of us grew up with the heavy, rusty, cast meat mincers, but modern materials are easier to clean.
A fantastic mincer at a really good price, fun to use and versatile too.
No article on meatballs can be complete without a mention of Sweden's contribution to the world of balls of meat and spices.
Many people will have come across these when shopping at an Ikea, in my mind they are one of the better reasons to visit the godawful places, but they do taste a little mass produced and with the horse meat scandal raising doubts about them it might be a better idea to make your own if you can't afford a trip to Stockholm or don't have a Swedish neighborhood deli nearby.
The main difference between Swedish Meatballs (KÃ¶ttbullar) and those from Italy, the balkans and the middle east is the inclusion of bread soaked in milk, which gives the meatball a soft consistency, and the use of allspice (although some claim that dill is correct they may be confusing themselves over that other Swedish delicacy, Gravad Lax). White pepper is also more commonly used than black as it has a lighter more fragrant flavor that goes better with the Lingonberrys.
Anyway, here's my recipe, a somewhat amalgamation of various people who probably claim to know better but I'd gladly bet them a plate of my balls that these are the best!
- Cook time: 1 hour
- Ready in: 1 hour
- Yields: 6
- 1 lb/500g mixed ground beef and pork
- 1 1/4 cup/250ml of whole milk
- 3/4 cup
- 75 g breadcrumbs or a single slice of white bread
- 1 egg
- 1 onion
- finely iced
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp white freshly ground pepper
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 1. In a saucepan, gently fry the onion in a little butter until it is soft and translucent but not colored.
- 2. Meanwhile soak the bread in the milk.
- 3. Blend the ground meat, with the onion, egg, milk/breadcrumb mixture and the spices, you can use a food processor for this, it depends on how finely ground the meat was and how small you diced the onion.
- 4. Mix to a reasonably smooth consistency, you want things to be well mixed but take care if using a food processor not to turn everything into a paste.
- 5. If the mixture is too firm add a little more milk.
- 6. A good chef would always test fry a small piece to check for seasoning.
- 7. Shape the meatballs by hand, using two spoons or a meatball making gadget if you must, about an inch to an inch and a half is about right.
- 8. Heat some more butter in a large frying pan and add the meatballs, shake the pan to keep the balls moving and give them an even browning all over.
- 9. Serve with a gravy (see below), mashed potatoes or boiled new potatoes and a generous spoonful of lingonberries.
Where can you get Lingonberry Preserve to go with your Swedish Meatballs?
These taste just like the ones you can get in Ikea and don't just go great with meatballs but also with pancakes and other deserts.
Is this a complete waste of time and money...?
Why on earth you would use something like this rather than a frying pan or roasting tray is beyond me, Catherine Scorsese certainly seems to manage without one, maybe you can suggest in the comments below why it's better to spend $25 on this rather than a decent bottle of wine.
File under silly gadgets like the 12v in car toasted sandwich maker, in my opinion a complete waste of money, buy a decent frying pan or a bottle of wine instead.
Is the Meatball Maker the silliest gadget yet?
Yes, an utter waste of money
DedeMed's Fantastic Kibbeh Recipe
I really can't hope to compete with Dede, she has made these amazing stuffed Levantine meatballs, be sure to check out her website as it has the full recipe.
Balkan style meatballs
Buying a Meatball Maker - If you really can't bear the thought of touching raw meat with your hands...
Fairly pointless unless you have OCD and absolutely must have evenly sized meatballs, the composite version seems to be favored as it hurts the hands less, but probably more than rolling them by hand does.
Designing your own meatballs
Meatballs are great for experimenting with, you will rarely end up with something you won't want to eat and you could just discover an incredible flavor combination - if you do please come back and tell me about it!
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Oatmeal or oats instead of bread - will absorb some of the meat oils and soften to create a more varied texture.
- Dijon mustard - adds a creamy pepper heat without being too spicy.
- Celery Leaves - the tops of these leaves add a nice almost aniseed flavor that compliments lamb well .
- Grated hard cheese such as Parmesan, Mahon sec or even aged cheddar.
- Spices such as cumin, smoked paprika and nutmeg.
- Sour cherries or cranberries - add a lovely fruitiness to the meat, working especially well with spicy dishes.
- Pine nuts - I prefer them slightly toasted first (just toss on a dry skillet for a few minutes) as this releases a fantastic nutty flavor that goes well with chicken.
- Stuffed with a lump of mozzarella, just roll the meat around small lumps of cheese, those that melt easily are best such as mozzarella or brie.
Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries
While this isn't remotely a meatball recipe book, it does contain an absolutely delicious Polpettine recipe and so I just had to include it here in this article.
Polpettines come from the Abruzzo region of Italy, and are smaller than "normal" golf-ball sized meatballs, about half the size.
The addition of anchovy fillets gives a lovely deep savory flavor, which is balanced by they lemon sharpness, I can't recommend them, or the book highly enough.
As Nigel regularly writes for the English Sunday newspaper, The Observer, this recipe is available on-line, the link is below, however I would urge you to buy this book as it is a true gem in the overcrowded world of cookery books.
Written in the style of a diary, Nigel records almost every meal he eats over the course of a year, from humble lettuce salad to Christmas dinner, and because the recipes are ordered by the month Nigel cooked them they tend to use seasonal ingredients and fit well with the time of year (hearty stews in the winter for instance) but these little pork, anchovy and lemon meatballs are simply wonderful at any time of the year.
For the last five years I have made Nigel's Christmas pudding and it's the best I've ever tasted.
His Tarragon Chicken recipe is really special too.
The bread soaked in red wine gives these meatballs a distinctive and unique taste, these are well worth making and serving with a fresh green Greek salad.
- Prep time: 20 min
- Cook time: 10 min
- Ready in: 30 min
- Yields: 4
- 1 lb/500gms of ground lamb (beef can also be used)
- 1 large finely chopped onion
- 5 finely chopped garlic cloves
- 2 sliced of white bread soaked in red wine
- 2 beaten eggs
- 1 cup of chopped mint
- Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup of finely grated Kefalotyri cheese
- or parmesan if you can't find this hard Greek cheese
- 1/2 cup of plain flour
- Olive Oil
- 1. Mix the meat, garlic and onion together in a bowl.
- 2. Add the bread, chopped mint, and cheese.
- 3. Season well and add the eggs.
- 4. Cover and place in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
- 5. Using your hands, roll into meatballs 1 1/2" in diameter.
- 6. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan or skillet.
- 7. Roll the meatballs in the flour then fry in the oil until browned all over, after 8 minutes cut through a meatball to check if it is cooked all the way through, if not then cook for a further two minutes.
- 8. Place meatballs on absorbent kitchen roll to soak up some of the oil.
- Serve with a green salad, black olives and feta cheese, these also go well with spaghetti and tomato sauce.
- Another great way to serve Keftaides is in pita bread pockets, with a Greek yoghurt and cucumber dressing.
It's amazing what you can find on Amazon these days!
Yes, even Greek Kefalotyri!
8oz of three different Greek Cheeses; Manouri, Graviera and Kefalotyri.
Meatballs on eBay
It's truly amazing what you'll find on Amazon when you search for Meatballs, but maybe something will catch your eye!
Curried Frikadels - traditional South African meatball curry
Frikadels are popular in South Africa and should not be confused with the Dutch skinless sausage of the same name, by cooking these in a curry sauce you get to combine two fantastic flavors and textures. Don't be put off by the use of mutton, it has a deeper and stronger taste than lamb, but as long as it is cooked for sufficient time it is not tough and chewy, in fact it works incredibly well in all slow cooked stews and curries.
- Prep time: 30 min
- Cook time: 1 hour
- Ready in: 1 hour 30 min
- Yields: 8
- 2 lb of minced mutton
- 2 slices of stale bread
- 2 finely chopped onions
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 pints of vegetable or lamb stock
- 1 tablespoon of medium curry powder
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 cup of milk
- 1 tsp of sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon of taramind paste
- Juice of one lemon
- Olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Sea salt
- 1. Make the breadcrumbs using a blender or by placing the bread inside a plastic bag and rolling it with a rolling pin.
- 2. Mix the meat, breadcrumbs, half of the chopped onion, the egg, and some pepper and salt. Cover and put to one side.
- 3. In a saucepan fry the onion in some olive oil.
- 4. Pour over this the stock and bay leaves.
- 5. Add the curry powder, the milk, 1 tsp of sugar, some pepper and salt to taste, the tamarind paste and the lemon juice and gently bring to the boil and let it reduce slightly.
- 6. While the curry sauce is boiling roll the meat into balls the size of a chicken's egg, add them to the curry sauce.
- 7. Gently continue to stew for 30 minutes until done.
- Serve with boiled rice.
What is Taramind?
Tamarind is an essential ingredient in many Indian, Malaysian and Indonesian cooking. Adds a refreshingly tangy sweet and sour flavour. Paste made from Tamarind is simply the fruit separated from the pod and seeds of the tamarind tree. It is then concentrated and made into a cooking paste, a little goes a long way and so a jar will very likely last a long time, it has a long self life
Most traditionalists seem to prefer the flavor of block tamarind, it is slightly more complicated to use, you cut off a piece, soak it in hot water for 15-20 minutes, mash it with fork and then strain through a fine mesh.
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