I know what you are thinking…
… “who uses that product and who uses it in meatballs?!”
Well my Father-in-law did and since he made some great Italian meatballs for a learn-to-cook–later-in-life Irish guy, I use it too. Unfortunately we never accurately got his recipe before he passed away. (readers take note… this is important stuff to do before it is too late!) So I am always fiddling around with my meatballs to see if I can capture his essence.
www.gravy.com will tell you that the product has “NO chemical preservatives, artificial color, flavors or additives are ever used.” I am not sure it is health food but it doesn’t seem terrible – check out the website and you can make your own decisions about this.
As for my meatballs – they turned out great, even if I say so myself. I took the time and care to chop and use fresh herbs (makes all the difference) and I also measured everything and wrote it down so you could try them too. And they are baked, so they are just a tad easier and healthier than the pan-fried ones!
1 lb ground pork
1/2 lb ground beef (80/20 blend)
2 garlic cloves, super finely minced/mashed (use 1 clove if you are not a huge garlic fan)
pinch hot chili flakes ( don’t leave this out – it needs it)
1/2 TB dried Oregano
1/4 cup fresh, finely minced fresh basil
1/4 cup fresh, finely minced fresh flat leaf parsley
plenty of salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup finely grated pecorino romano cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 TSP Gravy Master®
2 cups freshly ground bread crumbs (about 1/3 of a day-old Italian loaf) mixed with 3/4 cup of milk to form a thick oatmeal consistency.
Preheat oven to 425 Degrees. Mix it all very lightly in a bowl. Heat a small skillet on the stove and cook one up real quick as a tester for flavor. If it needs anything more, make the adjustments, and start forming the balls.
I personally like small ( 1″ diameter) balls. They cook quick, fit nice on my sheet pans, and tuck perfectly into leftover meatball subs. They can also be pressed into action out of the freezer ( fully cook, then freeze) as perfect little reheated appetizer with toothpicks stuck into them for dipping!
Line them up in even little rows on parchment lined sheet pans and if you are paranoid like I am about them sticking anyway, spray the parchment with a little cooking spray first. Bake them for 14 mins. Feel free to turn them halfway thru if you think you can manage not to break them apart in the process. You may want to add another minute or two to cooking time to make up for time spent outside of oven turning.
This general cooking time assumes that you will be putting them into red sauce for a little further cooking and heating. And although the baking in the oven yields them fully cooked – they are just so.. kinda like al dente pasta… so if you are not going to simmer them any further in some sauce – feel free to leave them in an extra 2 mins or so.
Cool and freeze any that don’t go into the sauce. Yields 36 balls. (including the tester)
Enjoy over a heaping mound of pasta with some extra cheese on top!