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Ever since I was very young it’s been customary with me to have spaghetti or some sort of pasta for supper at least once a week; usually Wednesday. However, for the past fifteen years or so it’s always been plain pasta and sauce, no meatballs. I had just lost my taste for them. Then about two weeks ago I got a craving for meatballs. So, I decided to make my own, something I had not done before but how hard can it be? Mix some stuff in a bowl and throw it in the oven. I went online to get a few meatball recipes. Wow, there must be a hundred thousand of them! I guess the days of picking between one or two recipes in the Betty Crocker cookbook are over. Anyway I found a couple of simple recipes and headed off to the store to buy what I needed. I got breadcrumbs, garlic, oregano, parsley, an onion, eggs, Italian seasoning, etc. I bought two pounds of lean hamburger instead of one; enough for a double batch. I figured if I was going to have the oven running I might as well fill it up. Well, I preheated the oven, mixed everything up, formed the goo into balls, stuck them on a baking sheet and popped them in the oven. (All the time Mrs. OG is watching me and shaking her head. She has no faith in my culinary abilities.) Over the course of a half hour I turned them over a few times to evenly brown them. That’s when I noticed that the smell of onion and spices seemed exceptionally strong. I took them out to cool and they really stunk up the house. Once they were cool enough to taste I sampled one and almost gagged, it tasted like I had stuffed ten cloves of garlic and a bottle of Italian seasoning into my mouth. I performed a post mortem and figured out what happened. I rooted around in the rubbish and located the hamburg wrapper. Apparently I picked up a one pound pack of hamburger at the store thinking it was a two pound pack. So I seasoned the hamburger twice as much as I should have. Also I bought pre-seasoned breadcrumbs instead of plain by mistake. Needless to say we had no meatballs with the spaghetti the next day; I threw them in the trash. I was going to dump them down my disposal but I was afraid they would damage the piping. So I told you this story because I wanted someone to send me an easy recipe for meatballs that is foolproof. However, the more I think about this ordeal don’t bother. Next time I want spaghetti and meatballs I’ll go to the Olive Garden.

“Chef” OG
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Super Moderator
San Diego, Cal., USA
(This post was last modified: 10-26-2016, 02:14 AM by Freddy.)
Definitely give it another try, OldGuy. You were so close and the mistakes you made can easily be rectified.

I hope a few of our members will come up with some easy recipes that produce delicious results. Smile
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Thanks for the encouragement Freddy, I'll do that.

Central Maine
(This post was last modified: 10-26-2016, 05:25 AM by ShadowsDad.)
That's the pits!

I wish I had a recipe for you, but I always just wing it and they always come out great. The biggest tip I can give for a tender meatball is to make a panade. That is, take some bread and some milk and whiz it up in a blender or food processor to form a paste. I suppose a mortar and pestle could also be used. That panade gets mixed into the meat and it prevents the meat proteins from finding each other and toughening. A tablespoon or 2 of the panade paste per pound of meat is enough to get it done. Oh, and never buy bread crumbs, they're just nasty and always stale. Make your own or use fresh bread.

The second tip I can give is to go slowly when adding stuff if you're new to cooking and use a small fry pan to taste and see how it's going and what else it needs. I always do this when making sausage and before stuffing the casings. (I know we're discussing meatballs but the same thing works for both.)

The other ingredients I'll use are garlic, hard Italian cheese (the good stuff- not out of a carton!), oregano, basil, fennel, red wine (from the bottle I'm drinking), and not always all of these. Maybe other things if the creative juices grab me. But they also always get simmered in the sauce for a time and the sauce picks up the brown bits and olive oil from the pan. The brown stuff is flavor and simmering in sauce helps to meld the flavors.

What a shame you threw them out. I bet simmering them very slowly in sauce for a time would have mellowed them right out. Or cut them up and add them to sauce to dilute the garlic. Generally there's always a way to bring something back, although it might not be exactly what was planned. Just nod when folks proclaim it good and act like it was what you had planned all along.

Another thing you might try is the panade trick and in a food processor add it to Italian sausage out of the casing (mix thoroughly). Form that mix into balls. If you liked the sausage going in you'll like it as a meatball and the panade will keep it from getting tough after being worked in the food processor or kneading by hand.

Good luck next time and learn from it. Burnt food is a disaster, most other things can be dealt with if we put our thinking caps on, and remember, dogs love cooking disasters (It's been many years since the last one, sorry dogs, more for us).
Brian. Lover of SE razors. Maker of Krampert's Finest Products.
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Oslo, Norway
Sorry for your mishap, OldGuy.

Reading this thread, I nevertheless got a craving for meatballs. If you want to toss things around a little with your meatballs, try adding, in addition to Brian's tip of Italian hard cheese (parmesan, pecorino), a couple of table spoons of pine nuts and raisins per pound of meat. Adds not only to flavor but also to keeping them juicy.
Thanks Brian and Halvor, I will take your advice and try a new batch next week.
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Austin, TX
(This post was last modified: 10-26-2016, 03:49 PM by kwsher. Edit Reason: added easy sauce recipe )
I would also recommend giving it another shot as once you crack the code, it's very quick and easy! Much like Bryan, I just typically wing it with whatever I have both fresh and available and don't follow any strict recipe.

In addition to the comments already shared don't overwork the meatballs either. Makes them a little "toothy".

PS. for a very quick and easy sauce:

Saute about a cup of chopped yellow onion until clear in olive oil [about a tablespoon or so]
Add chopped garlic for a minute to infuse flavor [3 cloves chopped]
Add some of the red wine you're drinking [about a cup] and reduce most of liquid
Add 1 28oz can San Marzano tomatoes, flat leaf parsley, basil, salt and pepper
Simmer for 10 minutes then use a potato masher to crush the tomatoes and simmer for another 10 minutes
Kevin- Moderator
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Central Maine
Kevin, FWIW, San Marzano tomatoes are great in Italy and possibly other countries. But in the USA, by law, the same tomatoes that are great elsewhere are deliberately destroyed by overcooking so as not to compete with California tomatoes. Taste them side by side right out of the can. The CA tomato will always win that taste test. Now if that law was ever repealed the San Marzano could win, but not as things exist now.

Yes, I know what others say, but they are working from the reputation of San Marzano tomatoes elsewhere and not the reality here in the USA. Maybe if someone picked up the SM tom's in Canada (or Mexico) and brought them back that would work since they probably aren't destroyed before being imported to Canada. (They don't have CA tomato growers having our Feds passing laws to protect CA growers)
Brian. Lover of SE razors. Maker of Krampert's Finest Products.

Austin, TX
Hey Brian, as I just returned from Southern Italy, I can partially vouch for that Smile Never heard of the deliberate sabotage of tomatoes but do ensure that I spend an extra couple of bucks and get D.O.P. SM when I buy canned and have actually found the flavor to be quite good for sauce short cuts. Sclafani are particularly good. Not quite as good as fesh and food mill but tasty nonetheless and quick.

Can you provide a reference to the law you mention out of curiosity? I'm surprised the brands would market the DOP in the US with such constraint and would prefer at the least to remove that designation.

Interesting stuff.
Kevin- Moderator
Thanks for the help Kevin, I'll give that a try. However, what if I'm drinking Scotch? Can I pour that in?


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