Hearty, humble meatballs rank high on our list of most-craved comfort food, whether bathed in marinara and cresting a mountain of spaghetti or piled high on a hero roll; cloaked in Swedish-style cream sauce; bobbing in soup; or on the end of a toothpick, plucked from a pool of savory-sweet glaze. Here's what you need to know to make them.
Meet Your Meat
Beef, pork, veal, turkey, chicken, lamb, even seafood -- any ground meat can serve as the foundation of a fantastic meatball. Consider using a blend of different meats for the best flavor and texture. Use meat with a bit of fat to keep meatballs from being dry and tasteless. Martha’s favorite combination for meatballs is a blend of beef, pork, and veal: The beef adds body, the fat from the pork adds flavor, and veal, which is high in collagen, holds everything together.
Now Is the Time to Season
Add flavorful spices, aromatics, and other ingredients to meatball mixtures, including parsley, oregano, garlic, nutmeg, onion, Parmesan, breadcrumbs, cheese, and shallots. Sauteing the onions and garlic before adding them to the mixture maximizes their flavor. For the final touch, season the meatball mixture with salt and pepper. A good way to test the seasoning is by frying up a little sample of the meat mixture, then adjusting as necessary.
Milk and eggs make meatballs moist; egg also helps to bind them together.
For the best texture, shape the meatballs gently, with a light touch -- do not compact them. Use your hands, or an ice cream scoop.
Feel the Heat
Sauteing meatballs before adding them to a sauce or soup forms a crust, which helps keep them from falling apart.
It’s easy to freeze meatballs for later use. Once cooked, freeze them in an airtight container and add them right to a simmering sauce to thaw them.
Now, watch Martha make giant meatballs, with a combination of meats, egg, ricotta, and moistened bread.