Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hunkering Down for Winter Part One - Meatball-o-rama!

It’s the last week of Summer. Well, maybe not officially, I guess fall doesn’t officially start until somewhere around the 20th, but we’re already September, and Labour Day is behind us , and for me that's the first loud signal of fall. I might be well past my school years, but I think I’m still running on that calendar. The past weekend was Labour Day weeknd, the last long weekend of Summer and while most people were escaping the city for one more day at the beach, or one more weekend at the cottage, we used the weekend to unpack the last of the boxes (urrrmmm, we moved last October...) and to start thinking about how we can use the long weekend to stock the freezer for the fall and winter months ahead. Some people may think I’m crazy but I really prefer the fall and winter, and I like to get ready for them by stocking my freezer so that I’m prepared for whatever may come.

On my list so far are meatballs, tomato sauce (not to be confused with spaghetti sauce), and chicken stock. I’ll make these over the next few weeks, and I’ll probably take another weekend later this fall and make Chili, Spaghetti Sauce and maybe stew. Today’s post is about meatballs.

As a kid, I hated hamburger. Just ask my mom - picture this, toddler Erin (who incidentally looks exactly like adult Erin, but just smaller), sitting in her highchair, eating spaghetti or maybe lasagna, but spitting out the crumbled hamburger...true story. Another true story - I didn’t willingly eat a hamburger until I was probably 17. It’s still not my favorite meat, but it is versatile, inexpensive, and when prepared well, it has the potential to be quite tasty. For most recipes calling for ground meat, I use ground turkey. I really prefer it, it makes meals lighter and easily takes on the flavour of whatever you’re cooking it in. However, meatballs are another story. Meatballs need beef.

Meatballs aren’t just for eating with spaghetti either. Although, meatballs and spaghetti is a delicious meal. At our house we use these little nuggets of yumminess as the basis for a number of meals: meatballs with Diana Sauce and fried rice, meatball casserole, meatballs and tomato sauce with garlic bread, meatball subs, etc. No need to worry, these recipes will make appearances over the winter.

So here it is, my recipe for:

Copious Amounts of Meatballs...
2/3 Club Pack of Lean Ground Beef (you can use the other 1/3 for a lasagna like I did), or two to three regular sized packages
2c. Breadcrumbs*
2 large Carrots
2 medium Onions
3 ribs of Celery
1/2 green pepper
4 Cloves Garlic
4 Eggs
1/2 shot glass Worcestershire sauce (I really used a shot glass)
1 tbsp honey mustard
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. chili flakes

*But Erin, I don’t have any bread crumbs, you say? Well - do you have bread? Yes? Then you can have bread crumbs in a few minutes. Take a few pieces of bread (doesn’t matter if its white, brown, multigrain or rye - all are good, but a stronger bread will alter the flavour of your dish a bit), the crustier, the better, and pop it in the oven at 250F for about 5 minutes, just to dry it out a bit. Tear it up, and buzz it in a food processor or blender until it is the consistency you want. For this recipe, you will want them very fine.

1. Buzz all of veg (carrots, onion, celery, green pepper, garlic) in a mini or regular sized food processor. If you don’t have one, you should get one, they’re very useful and will only run you about $25. If you don’t have either of those things, but you do have a blender I suppose you could try that. If all else fails, chop everything very, very finely.

Ingredients, all measured out in a super big bowl.
2. Preheat your oven to 375F.

3. Mix all ingredients together in a very large bowl. Use your hands. Its the only way to ensure that the ingredients get mixed all of the way through. If the meat mixture is overly crumbly (as in, you’re not sure if its going to hold together) then add another egg. If its too wet, add some more bread crumbs. Don’t over mix, this will make your meatballs tough. You just want your veg to be evenly distributed. I use lean hamburger, its lower in fat than medium, or regular, but still has enough fat in it that your meatballs won’t be dry. If you prefer a different type of hamburger, knock yourself out, you’ll just need to adjust your liquids (eggs) accordingly, and be prepared for either a drier, or greasier meatball.

2/3 of a club pack of ground beef - in case you were wondering what it looked like.
4. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper or tin foil. Parchment paper is better, as your food won’t stick to it. Leaving about a centimetre and a half between meatballs, roll them out and place them on the trays. I like to make mine about 2-3 cm around.

Meatballs ready for the oven.
5. Bake them, two trays at a time if you can for 20-30 minutes, until they’re cooked through (i.e. not pink on the inside anymore, you’ll have to sacrifice one...)

6. Set them aside to cool. Once they’re fully cooled, put them in a freezer bag and throw them in the deep freeze for a week night in the future, when you’re too tired to do anything but open up the bag of meatballs, and heat them in a sauce of some kind. Really, since you’ve already cooked them through, all you need to do is heat them up! It’s important to use a freezer bag, and not tupperwear, because they will become freezer burnt in the tupperwear!

On top of spaghetti, all covered in cheese!
I lost my poor meatball, when somebody sneezed!
Happy Eating!



  1. The fact that you used the word copious makes me happy :D

  2. I'm glad. The recipe made 84 meatballs, which are currently in my freezer. Yes, I counted. I was curious...

  3. Mmm, I love meat balls :-) I will definitely try these.

  4. delicious - i love the vegetables in the meatballs. Fussy eaters dont even know they are there!!!!!!