Baked meatballs

by - Saturday, February 13, 2021

February winters can be a bit challenging in the Northeast. Here in northern New Jersey, it's nubilous and nippy. The light gray sky is a canvas above tips of muted evergreens in the distance. For me, today is a perfect day to write, start the third season of Outlander, and cook. For some reason, cloudy with a chance of meatballs comes to my mind.

In my quest over many years for a moist and delicious meatball recipe, the search has, unfortunately, yielded some hard and dry meals. But once I found a basic recipe that works well, I always spin it with added ingredients. By doing so, these meatballs are foolproof. Making this version, I am happy to say they are always savory, soft, and juicy. 

Baked Meatballs

2 pounds of ground meat - a trio of beef, veal, and pork (usually packaged together at the supermarket)

6 oz box Stove Top Stuffing Mix - Savory Herb flavor

1 1/4 cups water

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (fresh is best!)

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (or 4 tsp dry parsley)

1 egg

Homemade or store-bought tomato sauce

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray with Pam. 
2) In a large bowl, add the dry stuffing mix and water. Mix it until the breadcrumbs are moistened and absorb all the water.
3) Add the chopped meats, crumbling each one at a time, creating layers of beef, veal, and pork. With a fork, give the meats a good mix with the stuffing. Add the parmesan cheese and parsley.
4) With clean hands, mix all together in the bowl until everything is incorporated. Crack the egg and add to the bowl. Again, mix with your hands to combine the egg with the mixture.

5) If you want, use a small ice cream scoop to create uniform-sized meatballs. Or, I just eyeball them by gathering a bit of the mixture in my hands and roll each one. You can make them smaller, about 1 inch round or bigger at 2 inches. I would not make them any bigger than 2 inches.
6) Place the meatballs on your prepared baking sheet spaced at least a half-inch apart. Adjust them as necessary to fit on your sheet pan.
7) Bake the meatball tray for 20 minutes. If you want them to be a bit crisp on both sides, turn each one over halfway through the baking. I don't bother, and they come out great!

8) Remove the tray from the oven and toss immediately with your sauce in a serving dish. Sprinkle with extra chopped parsley and grated cheese.

These meatballs are always moist and delicious. Since there is a lot of seasoning in the stuffing mix and parmesan cheese, there is no need for additional salt. Sometimes I add fresh basil if I have it on hand both in the meatballs and as a garnish. We have these meatballs with steaming hot pasta or slice open a crusty loaf of Italian bread, layer them in and smother with slices of fresh mozzarella cheese. I slide the hero sandwiches under the broiler for a few minutes to get the cheese all bubbling and melty. Are you hungry yet?

Yup, it's definitely cloudy with a chance of meatballs today. Enjoy! xoxo- Sonya 

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