Meatballs - Finding the Limit

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by rick alan, Mar 1, 2015.

  1. rick alan

    rick alan

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    Oops, thought I was posting this to, "What did you have for dinner," oh well.

    Donna does not do much cooking around here, at all.  But for the daughter's birthday she got the idea to do meatballs, as spaghetti and same are a major part of her very limited pallet.  Well it worked for Donna's meatloaf, but you wouldn't think meatballs could hold together with the quantity of additions, and I think we found the limit:

    Ingredients:

    2.5lbs 92% lean hamburger

    1lb onions

    1 very large sweet red pepper

    6oz mushrooms

    3 stalks celery

    4oz pork cracklings from the previous nights rendering

    5 slices toast coarsely broken over all that

    5 jumbo eggs then tossed in and all mushed by hand

    All the veggies got sautéed, added to was fresh garlic, sage, thyme and oregano; pepper, smoked salt, merkin, teriyaki sauce.  Simmered 2hrs in 1.5qts cheap spaghetti sauce (Donna and daughter's preference) using preheated sauce and crock pot, 2 hrs coasting (heat off).

    I had to be careful browning the meatballs as they were on the verge of breaking, but all held together and, really, all was quite fabulous.  The egg-soaked toast creating wonderfully silk bits in every bite, or perhaps that was the pork craclings as this was not noticed in the meatloaf which was made similar, if not exact.  The cheap sauce even seemed to be transformed!

    Rick
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2015
  2. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    It's not the way I'd go with meatballs but if it turned out well then that's what matters.  That's a lot of eggs!
     
  3. rick alan

    rick alan

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    Tell me about it, the quantities were entirely her idea, I just stood there in disbelief and chopped things up.  But I tell you I wouldn't do it any other way now unbelievable as that sounds.  So all I can say to folks is give it a shot sometime.

    Rick
     
  4. chefedb

    chefedb

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    We do not make them like that, and use 1 egg per pound of mix with no celery, cracklins or mushrooms. We may serve them in a mushroom sauce. There are 100s of recipes for meat balls,  its whichever one you and your guest like. Our meatloaf is a different mixture, as is French roast and Salisbury steaks.
     
  5. mtullius

    mtullius

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    I usually only use 1 egg per pound too. If it's hard to brown the meatballs because they are delicate, you could try baking them. I always do it that way. They get nicely browned and don't require much watching. Sometimes I turn them but not always.
     
  6. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Good thing it works, why not submit it to this months' challenge!
     
  7. rick alan

    rick alan

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    @chefedb, I certainly wouldn't make Chinese fish balls, Vietnamese pork balls, Swedish meatballs, etc, in the same fasion - well I might try but that's a different beast.  I see these loaded meatballs as maybe kinda sorta of an Americanized Italian thing.

    After considering the texture and dissecting and closely examining several meatballs I decided that the wonderful creamy bits were pieces of the egg-soaked toast and not the cracklings.  Don't think the cracklings would have softened and expanded like that.  Will know for sure next time by not adding cracklings.  These creamy bits, and actually an overall creamy texture here, really make these meatballs unique in my experience.

    @mtullius, it was actually fun gently coaxing the meatballs around to evenly brown, but oven browning sounds a possibly good and interesting option.

    @Koukouvagia, yeh I think I should enter these in the challenge, I can certainly be ready to make them again at the end of the month.  Thanks for the encouragement!

    Rick
     
  8. mike9

    mike9

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    I really enjoy making meatballs.  I have a standing order for some from out of towner guests arriving this week.  I scored some reduced delmonico and pork breakfast sausage today and it went in the freezer straight away.  I already have venison I ground so that will be the three meat component for the recipe.

    A friend of mine's Italian mother corrected my method.  I asked her how her's were so moist and she asked me to describe my method.  She nodded as I explained and when I got to the part where I squeeze the milk from the bread she exclaimed - "there's you problem right there - don't a squeeze just a lift the bread out and a put it in the mix".  Haven't squeezed since and my meatballs come out perfect every time.  /img/vbsmilies/smilies/thumb.gif
     
  9. rick alan

    rick alan

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    Ahahaha, and of course adding near the weight of meat in vegetables and eggs and you will also guarantee you very moist meatballs.

    Rick
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2015
  10. inspclouseau

    inspclouseau

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    I've been having issues with dry, crumbly meatballs myself.  the last few times I made them I used Batali's recipe from the Chicago Tribune.  He explains really well why you need a 50/50 ratio of meat to bread, etc.  My meatballs are much better now.  I use milk instead of water, omit the pine nuts, and instead of just beef, I use 50/50 beef/pork.  And almost anytime I make burgers, meatloaf, or meatballs I always go for 80/20 beef/fat.

    I think its funny I have lurked on this site for several years and decide my first post is going to be one on meatballs.
     
  11. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    My mother puts freshly grated tomato in her meatballs.  They are always very moist.
     
  12. french fries

    french fries

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    I do not use ANY egg in my meatballs. Eggs tend to make meatballs drier and tougher, and I find they're not necessary for binding. 

    Also important is to avoid over mixing, which again makes the meat dry and tough. Some cuisines encourage that (vietnamese meatballs for example, are like rubber), but I don't like it. 
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2015
  13. rick alan

    rick alan

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    Yes I especially do not want a lot of bread, in anything I eat, as that stuff is on restriction for me right now. 

    Kokouvagia's grandma's use of grated tomato echo's my own experience here with the copious added vegetable pulp.

    @French Fries, when you have that much liquid in veggy content as I used you do not have to worry about the egg drying or toughening things.  With that much water to work with the eggs apparently actually add to the softness and give it a very silky texture.  And with all that liquid I don't think they'd hold together without them. 

    And a big plus here for some is no need at all for fat.  Maybe I just invented the low-fat meatball diet...

    Rick