Not-So-Basic Meatballs

Closeup of meatballs

There’s really nothing like a good, juicy meatball. They’re rich, savory, and they add the perfect touch to a variety of recipes from around the world. You can make them out of any meat you can think of, or even mushrooms or your favorite plant-based protein, if you’re so inclined.

I mentioned these in my Mom’s Sweet And Sour Meatballs recipe, and I loved the way these complemented her recipe. I got absolutely nothing against the prepackaged frozen meatballs, but these have an extra level of rich that it’s hard to get from the store-bought ones.

A few things with this recipe:

  • When choosing your meat, you want to make sure that you have enough fat in the mixture to keep it from drying out. If you choose chicken or turkey, for example, add 2 TBSP of oil to the mixture.
  • If you’re going to put in the onions, you’ll absolutely want to cook them down before mixing them in. Caramelized onions have a sweet, soft flavor that will blend well with everything else in the meatballs. The flavor of raw onions, on the other hand, could easily be overpowering to a lot of people.
  • There is some debate about what kind of binder to use in meatballs. Some swear by breadcrumbs, while others will reach for oatmeal as their binder of choice. I personally like the flavor of butter crackers (legally, I’m not supposed to use the name, but I’m sure you can guess the brand), as it adds a richer flavor than either of the other two options.
  • If you want to make sure you have these on hand, you can easily make multiple batches and freeze them in zip-top bags. Just make sure you squeeze as much air out of the bags as possible.

Not-So-Basic Meatballs

1/2 cup onion, diced small

1 clove garlic, minced

2 lbs ground meat

For lean meats: 2 TBSP oil

1/2 cup cracker crumbs

1 egg

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp paprika

Sauté the onion and garlic with a pinch of salt on medium-low heat until caramelized, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool before mixing with all other ingredients. Roll into 1 1/2” balls, and bake in a greased baking dish at 350 for 15-20 minutes.


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