There are as many ways to enjoy meatballs as there are recipes to make them, but regardless of how they are being served, a savory, melt-in-your-mouth experience is always desired. Every grandmother has her secrets, and luckily for us, their techniques have been passed down over the years, from combing different kinds of meat to seasoning with fresh herbs. But the most important tool required to make the perfect meatball – surprisingly – is your own two hands.
Things You'll Need
- Small bowl
- Large bowl
- Garlic, powder or diced
- Herbs such as parsley, basil and oregano
- Baking sheet with a rim
- Plastic wrap
- Large sauté pan or skillet with high sides
- Plate, lined with a paper towel
Soak breadcrumbs in milk in a small bowl. Set aside for about 15 to 20 minutes, allowing the bread to soak up all the milk. About half a cup of breadcrumbs per pound of meat is adequate.
Place all of your meatball ingredients into one large bowl, starting with the meat first and ending with the spices. Include the soaked breadcrumbs, squeezing first to remove the excess milk. One egg per pound of meat is plenty to bind the ingredients. One teaspoon of salt is also good, though if using Parmesan, you can reduce the salt.
Mix the meat using your hands, allowing the meat to squeeze through your fingers by making a clawlike motion, just until ingredients are combined. Be careful not to over-mix. Small chunks of meat should still be visible.
Wet your hands, using the leftover milk from the soaking breadcrumbs. Roll the meatballs into the size desired for the dish you plan to serve. Place each rolled meatball onto a baking sheet with a rim so they don’t roll off.
Cover the rolled meatballs with plastic wrap. Chill them in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.
Melt 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat.
Saute meatballs in small batches until they are crispy and brown on all sides, about 6 to 8 minutes per batch. Use the tongs to gently turn your meatballs. Add more butter between batches if necessary. Place browned meatballs on a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up any residual grease.
Tips & Warnings
- Browning meatballs first gives them more flavor without cooking them through. Use the same pan used for browning to make a gravy or sauce with the meat drippings. If you’re in a hurry, the meatballs can also be dropped directly into the sauce pot and cooked for 15 to 20 minutes without browning first. If making meatballs for a large crowd, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper to keep them from rolling off. Slide them into a hot oven (400 degrees Fahrenheit) and roast until brown and crispy, about 15 to 18 minutes.
- Always wash your hands after touching raw meat, before using utensils and touching ready-to-eat ingredients. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says washing in warm water with soap for at least 20 seconds will prevent harmful bacteria in uncooked foods from spreading.
- Photo Credit Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images