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My meatballs ALWAYS fall apart!

I've made many different recipes of meatballs. I do not overmix them, and I gently form the balls. However, when I saute them, at some point, most of them start falling apart.
Any suggestions?

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  1. Before you sauté , I roast them
    In a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes, remove them and then into the fry pan for browning , then into my gravy

    2 Replies
    1. re: PHREDDY

      I grew up with my father frying the meatballs. Now I bake or broil. Faster, cheaper (no oil to buy) and less fat.

      I bake them in a 400 degree oven for about 16 minutes (8 each side) and then toss them into the gravy. I've bypassed the browning and frying and have noticed no discernible difference in taste. Or you can broil them if your heart is set on browning, but not directly under the coil; use one of the lower level racks and monitor carefully. Ovens are tricky, as you know, so tweak accordingly.

      1. re: MysticYoYo

        I roast them too. Easier. Keeps the intact. They brown nicely. No grease spatter to mop up. And you leave some of the fat on the baking sheet.

        Then proceed with recipe.

    2. Always add egg to meat mix... 1-2 depending on how much meat. Used to only add bread crumbs, but saw something on TV about soaking bread in milk till mushy to add to meat. I like to fry/saute till nice and brown before dumping into sauce for a nice slow simmer. Maybe meat/fat ratio has something to do with problem? If just using beef, will go with 80/20 or 85/15... never need any oil or additional fat to brown them up.

      3 Replies
      1. re: kseiverd

        I totally concur with the bread soaked in milk as a binder, stock also works. Doesn't just help with binding, also helps keep the moisture content up. The French have a word for it, but it escapes me.

      2. I concur with cooking the meatballs in the oven. I always use egg and rolled oats to help bind the meatballs and I leave the mix to rest in the fridge for 1/2 hour or preferably longer in the fridge before I roll and cook them. I find the oats absorb plenty of moisture so the meatballs aren't dry but also keep their integrity.

          1. I cook my meatballs right in the sauce. They will brown on the bottom I turn them several times. Mine are light and almost fluffy by most standards. I soak my bread in milk and never squeeze it out - that is key IMO. Just let it drain for a few seconds then into the mixing bowl. I combine all my ingredients before I add the meat - usually beef, or veal freshly ground at home. Once in a while one falls apart, but they almost melt in your mouth so I don't mind. I hate tough meatballs.

            2 Replies
            1. re: mike9

              I do that too. You *do* have to be gentle as your stir the sauce at the beginning so as not to break up the meatballs. The beauty of this system (besides being healthier than frying) is that the meat flavors the sauce, and the sauce flavors the meat.

              1. re: mike9

                i cook mine in the sauce, too. everything is made more delicious.