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Round Meatballs

chicgail Oct 16, 2012 12:57 PM

For the life of me I can't figure out how to keep meatballs round. I create round meatballs, but as soon as I put them in the hot oil in the pan, they start to flatten out against the pan and I wind up with 5- or 6-sided critters that may taste great, but are certainly not really balls.

Anyone know how to keep meatballs actually spherical?

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  1. k
    kseiverd RE: chicgail Oct 16, 2012 01:04 PM

    Mine kinda do the same thing. They taste GREAT, but not round. Have a feeling the mix is probably a little "loose"... thus the flattening?? Have NO intention on worrying about them not being round!?!

    1. sal_acid RE: chicgail Oct 16, 2012 01:18 PM

      You could boil or deep fry them for a few moments to firm up the exterior.

      or bake them so that only one side flattens a little

      Or make smaller balls so that the flat side is less apparent.

      1. jpr54_1 RE: chicgail Oct 16, 2012 01:25 PM

        r u adding any binders to the meat?

        4 Replies
        1. re: jpr54_1
          chicgail RE: jpr54_1 Oct 16, 2012 04:49 PM

          Yes. Eggs and bread that has been soaked and then squeezed dry. My concern was the bread. Maybe I'm adding too much moisture.

          1. re: chicgail
            almond tree RE: chicgail Oct 16, 2012 10:10 PM

            I would skip the soaking and squeezing for the bread -- that is adding moisture that you don't need. I mix ground meat with egg, seasonings and fresh breadcrumbs(made from the odds and ends of loaves that I collect in my freezer). Hot pan, cold oil, add the meatballs & handle very gently. They come out nice & round.

            1. re: almond tree
              j
              jjjrfoodie RE: almond tree Oct 19, 2012 08:03 AM

              It's called a panade, almond tree, and is actually quite critical and essential to good meatball making so , no, i would NOT skip the milk and bread mixture.

              I would suggest adding more binder in the form of bread crumbs, oatmeal, etc. and bake them if roundness is essential.

              Pretty for the sake of pretty is trumped by flavor and the yummy factor in my world.

              Good luck.

              1. re: jjjrfoodie
                almond tree RE: jjjrfoodie Oct 21, 2012 12:01 AM

                If I make good meatballs without soaking & squeezing the bread, obviously this step cannot be called essential.
                With my method, the moisture in the fresh breadcrumbs, egg and the meat itself is sufficient to make moist, delicious -- and round! -- meatballs.

        2. chefj RE: chicgail Oct 16, 2012 02:07 PM

          We always firm them up in the freezer for a while or freeze them hard if you want . It has the side benefit of keeping them from picking up too much flour.
          Works well.

          2 Replies
          1. re: chefj
            chicgail RE: chefj Oct 16, 2012 04:50 PM

            Freezing them is a great idea.
            What flour would they pick up? I don't flour them before I brown then.

            1. re: chicgail
              chefj RE: chicgail Oct 16, 2012 05:35 PM

              I do. So having them firm allows me to get the excess flour off easily

          2. n
            nlgardener RE: chicgail Oct 16, 2012 05:42 PM

            I recently made the best meatballs ever, following a recipe from a thread here on CH. Beef + pork, bread soaked in milk, egg, fresh parsley, Romano cheese...formed into balls and baked on a rack over a half sheet pan, then put into a pot of marinara sauce.

            They were tender, savory, and ROUND! We liked them better than the browned-in-the-skillet variety.

            1. charles_sills RE: chicgail Oct 16, 2012 06:28 PM

              roast them in the oven in a mini muffin tin. make the meat balls the right size so that they fit just right. plus the grease will drain away. or deep fry them.

              1. olyolyy RE: chicgail Oct 16, 2012 09:09 PM

                I find that you can only get perfectly round meatballs cooking them in the oven but they will not come out as tender. I'd rather have tender not quite round meatballs. With deep frying you lose that yummy pan browning.

                1 Reply
                1. re: olyolyy
                  rockandroller1 RE: olyolyy Oct 19, 2012 08:45 AM

                  +1

                2. j
                  Joebob RE: chicgail Oct 17, 2012 02:22 AM

                  You may not want to read this, but the smaller they are, the easier it is to keep them round.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Joebob
                    Crockett67 RE: Joebob Oct 20, 2012 05:50 PM

                    That's what I say as well. I keep to about a heaping TBS and have no issue. But they are not the honking meatballs you see at restaurants.... but really who wants to eat a meatball with a knife and fork?

                  2. h
                    Harters RE: chicgail Oct 17, 2012 05:20 AM

                    No idea whatsoever how to keep them spherical. I'm more than happy that they manage to stay together in any shape, rather than just falling apart in the pan.

                    1. t
                      travelerjjm RE: chicgail Oct 17, 2012 09:24 AM

                      Small ones do seem to stay rounder (but see below). I do 3/4" or 1". When you say "hot oil" are you shallow frying them? I tend to brown in a lightly oiled pan that I move around a lot to keep them rolling then a) simmer in sauce, b) deep fry or c) bake on a rack in a sheet pan. I generally get round meatballs with these methods.

                      I also get round meatballs when I do what I consider big ones: golf ball+ size where a person gets a serving of one or two.

                      1. c
                        CDouglas RE: chicgail Oct 17, 2012 01:19 PM

                        Boil them for 6-9 minutes depending on size, put them on a preheated sheet pan and run them under the broiler for a minute or so until they achieve your desired level of browning. They will stay perfectly round.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: CDouglas
                          hotoynoodle RE: CDouglas Oct 17, 2012 01:27 PM

                          boil them? yuk. why on earth would boil meat?

                          1. re: hotoynoodle
                            c
                            CDouglas RE: hotoynoodle Oct 17, 2012 03:58 PM

                            I got the idea from the way I make Italian Wedding soup. Those chicken meatballs are bouncy-ball round when boiled in the broth. I added the broil step to get some browning as that is the way I think of meatballs for pasta or sandwiches which sounds more appropriate to the OPs situation.

                            1. re: hotoynoodle
                              h
                              Harters RE: hotoynoodle Oct 18, 2012 08:52 AM

                              I guess it's sort of along the lines of sous vide cooking in a professional kitchen. Poach in plastic and finish in the pan or under the salamander.

                              1. re: Harters
                                hotoynoodle RE: Harters Oct 18, 2012 09:02 AM

                                except it's not. sous vide is outside heat, with an impermeable barrier. i'd much rather sacrifice shape for flavor.

                                1. re: hotoynoodle
                                  h
                                  Harters RE: hotoynoodle Oct 18, 2012 09:12 AM

                                  Absolutely. As you'll have noticed, I didnt say it was sous vide, only that it is "sort of along the lines of sous vide". Which it is.

                                  1. re: Harters
                                    c
                                    CDouglas RE: Harters Oct 18, 2012 09:41 AM

                                    Here is a recipe for sopa de Albondigas de Pollo that simmers the meatballs in broth:
                                    http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20...

                                    The picture shows the results of meatballs prepared in this fashion.

                                    1. re: CDouglas
                                      hotoynoodle RE: CDouglas Oct 18, 2012 02:27 PM

                                      that recipe relies on quite a lot of masa -- making them more like dumplings, imho.

                          2. greygarious RE: chicgail Oct 17, 2012 01:29 PM

                            I agree with the diagnosis that your mixture is too loose, and with the idea of freezing but even some time in the fridge will keep them firm enough to stay round.

                            I like to put a LOT of vegetables in my meatballs and hit upon the method of finely slicing the onions and bell pepper into very thin rings with my mandoline. As I mix up the mixture with my hands, though the rings tear into long threads, they still form a matrix that holds the mixture together. The longer you mix, the more the mixture firms up. Some people complain that the meatballs will be tough that way, but, probably because I use so much filler, mine do not come out tough. I do not find it is necessary to chill my mixture before forming the meatballs or cooking them.

                            1. GraydonCarter RE: chicgail Oct 18, 2012 07:27 AM

                              I think I'd rather have a flat, moist meatball than a bouncy-ball.

                              1. n
                                nemo RE: chicgail Oct 18, 2012 09:55 AM

                                The closest to round I've come to is to get the meatballs in the pan and keep the pan in motion. Let them sit for a bit, then shake. Sit, shake. YMMV.

                                1. RhonelyInsanediego RE: chicgail Oct 19, 2012 08:04 AM

                                  I use the muffin pan technique that I saw on some cooking show (maybe Alton B?). It works pretty well for keeping that round shape.

                                  Anyway you can use a small muffin pan and make the balls so that the sides just touch the sloped edges of the indentations and barely touches the bottom. Cook in a 375 oven for 8-10 min and turn over to brown the other side. Once browned and round finish cooking them off in your favorite marinara

                                  1. visciole RE: chicgail Oct 20, 2012 05:15 PM

                                    I agree that having spherical meatballs is less important than a good texture. That being said, I use Marcalla Hazan's polpettine recipe, and she says to roll the finished meatball in fine bread crumbs, which I find helps them to keep their shape.

                                    1. GraydonCarter RE: chicgail Oct 24, 2012 11:38 AM

                                      Add gelatin
                                      Roast them

                                      http://www.cooksillustrated.com/recip...

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