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Simple, beef meatballs

All I want is a recipe for meatballs. I know this sounds weird, but I've got one pound of good, ground sirloin and a hankering for some spaghetti and meatballs. All of the recipes I see call for a mix of meats, result in an ungodly number of meatballs or 15 OTHER ingredients. Help, please?

I'm not usually a recipe person, but I've never made meatballs (or meatloaf for that matter).

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  1. season yhe meat w/ salt and pepper. mix in some breadcrumbs and an egg. you can add some finely chopped pre-sauteed onions and garlic and finely chopped herbs.

    form into balls, brown in oil, simmer in tomato sauce.


    1. I never use anything but beef. None of the Italian cooks in my family do either. Salt and pepper, seasoned breadcrumbs, eggs and some grated Percorino Romano and dropped right in sauce to simmer without browning first. If I do it any other way, after the first bite, my husband will say, "Did you do something different?" (not in a good way).

      4 Replies
      1. re: southernitalian

        I love this! I saw your post in the other thread too about browning. I'm not italian but I love mine unbrowned for some reason and it's good to hear that it's not "wrong" and actually eaten that way.

        As for a recipe, I agree with southernitalian, don't over complicate the recipe, it's very easy to throw together. I do meat, some bread crumbs I got on hand, basic seasoning and cheese, no egg (though I was debating this evening whether I should because I never really have in the past)

        1. re: BamiaWruz

          IMO, you are missing a lot of flavor if you omit garlic and onion, and the texture is better with an egg per pound of meat. It is primarily a binder, making them tender but not fluffy. I can see how the puffy texture created by a higher meat-to-egg ratio would be unappealing.

          1. re: greygarious

            I start the sauce with lots of onion and garlic and the breadcrumbs I use are seasoned so I never add extra.

            1. re: greygarious

              I will try the egg, just as a binder. It's about time I guess. As for garlic and onion, I'm totally with you.

              I've dropped those two ingredients from everything I cook now due to my SO's tastes. Makes me very sad, I hardly buy them or have any in the house which is shocking.

              Need to get my act back together. I used to put fresh chopped parsley in my meatballs, love the flavour.

        2. Per pound of ground beef:

          1 egg
          1 slice of bread
          1/4 cup milk
          1/2 cup parmigiano or other similar cheese (optional)
          (mix/squish together thoroughly until pretty smooth)
          garlic, red pepper flakes, and oregano/Italian seasoning, s&p -- all to taste. I like LOTS of garlic and red pepper flakes, and a hefty pinch of Italian seasoning.
          (mix *gently*, form, saute, simmer)

          I've made meatballs with both the meat mix (beef, pork and veal) and with just ground beef and I ALWAYS prefer just ground beef. It's how my mother always makes them and they're great.

          6 Replies
          1. re: LauraGrace

            A slice of bread, torn and soaked in milk (this is called a panade), then mashed till smooth, will make a more tender meatball than using dried bread crumbs. Mix your
            other ingredients into the panade, then incorporate the meat LAST. The more you mash the meat around, the tougher the cooked meatballs will be.

            1. re: greygarious

              Yes - that CI recipe I referenced below uses this technique as well; I believe it uses buttermilk instead of regular milk.

              1. re: cookie44

                Another cool CI trick is to dissolve 1/2 tsp. of gelatin into the egg- this mimics the nice gelaltinous quality of veal. adam

                1. re: adamshoe

                  Thanks for mentioning that, adamshoe. It's a new one on me (I didn't renew CI in 2009) and I'll try it. I put a lot of vegetable additions in my meatballs so a little extra unctuousness might be nice. One batch last winter, I added some s home-made lentil soup (broth strained out first) when I realized I had put in a little too much bread for the amount of beef I had. The lentils upped the umami level and made a smoother textured, but the meatballs were a tad fragile - more egg might have helped but I think the bread-to-meat ratio was the culprit.

                  1. re: greygarious

                    @grey: My pleasure... it's actually their recipe for "all beef meatloaf", but I like the gelatin idea and results. Try it in meatloaf- it slices beautifully and has an almost paté like texture. Pretty sure it's a half tsp. per pound and a 1/2 of beef and I think it's dissolved in a little chix stock along w/ the egg. adam
                    Edit- Just checked the recipe....2 lbs. of beef, 1/2 tsp gelatine and 1/2 cup room temp or cold chix stock (so you don't curdle the egg...)

                2. re: cookie44

                  I saw that CI recipe, but I don't want to shell out for buttermilk. I'm trying to cook with everything I already have. I'll let you all know how it goes.

            2. Thank you all so much!

              1. My husband always makes the spaghetti & meatballs in our house and he swears by the Cooks' Illustrated recipe in the Italian Classics cookbook. I'm not certain off the top of my head how many ingredients but definitelly all beef and the taste is delicious and simple (in s good way - basic meatballs).

                1. and - once you have the technique down, you can swap ingredients around like crazy. I've made meatballs using South and southeast asian spices and sauces to simmer. sky's the limit

                  1. Half beef and half pork is my standard. Recently I made half Elk (hunter neighbor gave me some ground) and half pork. I rolled some small, for Wedding soup, and some big. They came out great.

                    1. Bobbie Flay did a meatball "throwdown" against a recipe by "Grandma Ramoni." Her recipe called for lots of egg...and won the taste test.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: ChristinaMason

                        I believe my mother tried this recipe and described them to me as "fluffy meatballs" and the worst she's ever had. Everyone else thought they were ok.

                        We often tease her about them because she is not the type to hate any food so it's kind of a first and she goes into a fit when we mention the fluffy meatballs.

                        I would be interested to actually try that recipe out, but I'm not a fan of so many eggs so I'm not sure.

                        1. re: BamiaWruz

                          Funny. One commenter described them as "souffle-like" which sounded odd for a meatball. I am not so sure I'd like it. My favorite meatball recipe involves bread and milk and very little egg: http://culinspiration.wordpress.com/2...

                          1. re: ChristinaMason

                            Just read some of the reviews, and one said quichy, one talked about egg being used for binding purposes only and the other said "fluffy" too. I didn't even get past the second page.

                            The recipe might be fine, I'd probably just omit most of the eggs if anything.

                      2. If you want simple beef balls this is a good recipe. Let me know if you need further instruction.

                        I came up with a basic recipe with a little spice into it. You can ignore the addition of milk but it a pretty solid recipe. Let me know what you think:

                        Meatballs: (28 ct)

                        2 lbs ground beef
                        2 eggs
                        1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
                        1 cup milk
                        1/2 cup finely chopped parsely (fresh)
                        1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
                        2 garlic cloves, finely minced
                        2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
                        Olive oil or bacon grease
                        Salt, to taste


                        1 can (28 oz) peeled tomatoes
                        1 tablespoon tomato paste
                        1 medium onion, diced
                        1 tablespoon light brown sugar
                        Salt, to taste

                        -Latin Lovin' Eatin' Grubbin'