Friday, 15 January 2010

A Big Batch of Meatballs

by Sadge, at Firesign Farm
I eat meat, but can just as easily do without it. I think of meat as a condiment to a meal - it adds flavor but it's not the main attraction. But Aries is an avowed carnivore. He'd make a meal of meat and bread if left to his own devices. He won't eat salads either, so I sneak veggies into his meals by making lots of soups and stews in the winter (out of the veggies stored in the cellar), and stir-fries in the summer (right out of the garden). I'll rarely buy meat when I make my twice-monthly trip to the market, unless it's some turkey ham to flavor a pot of beans.

But we also have a grocery store a block down the hill. Aries will walk down there a couple of times a week - because his bank is inside, or for me if we're out of milk. Usually, he'll check out the meat section for the must-sell-today specials. Yesterday, he came home with two pounds of country sausage, reduced to 99¢. When someone hands you that much ground meat, it's time to make meatballs. I had a pound of ground round in the freezer (also bought on sale, $2) - taken out to thaw yesterday, I made a big batch of meatballs today.

Big Batch of Meatballs (makes 75 1" meatballs)

3 pounds ground meat (I usually use a combination of beef and pork)
1½ cups fine bread crumbs
1½ cups finely chopped onion
3 eggs
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup ketchup
salt & pepper

Mix everything together. Grease, or spray a broiler pan with non-stick spray. Roll mixture into 1" meatballs. The easiest way I've found to make equal portions is to dump the mixture out on my cutting board, shape it into a 1" high rectangle, and cut it into 1" cubes. Arrange over the slits in the top of the broiler pan, and bake 400ยบ 20-25 minutes. I'll usually take them out of the oven after 15 minutes, and using a fork, flip the meatballs over so they'll brown on the other side too, putting them back into the oven for another 5-10 minutes.

This recipe makes enough to fill my broiler pan. After the cooked meatballs have cooled, I move them to a cookie sheet and put them in the freezer. After they're frozen hard, I transfer them to a gallon freezer bag to use as needed. Classically, I'll add some to a tomato and veggie sauce to serve over pasta, but they're also good in a brown sauce with mushrooms and yogurt as a meatball stroganoff, tucked in a pita pocket with lots of cucumber slices and a bit of ranch dressing, or Aries will sometimes make a meatball sandwich with cheese and barbecue sauce.

For a normal meal, Aries will have 4-5 meatballs as a serving, and I'll have maybe 3, so this $3 of meat will make 9-10 meals for the two of us. Today, I only had 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, so I used 1 tablespoon soy sauce too, and didn't add any salt or pepper (also, because the sausage had seasoning already added). They turned out just fine.