Sunday, October 3, 2010

Eleanor's Meatballs

When I was a young mom there was a babysitter in the neighborhood that all the new mothers would fight over. She was very attentive to the kids which was obviously important. But she had another trait that really made her number one on everyone's list- she was a fabulous cook. After a long day at work I'd come home to a plate of her meatballs and spaghetti and would feel like a princess. I've kept her recipe in my (now) antique recipe box for 30 plus years and make sure after I read it, it goes right back inside for safe keeping. Delicious, no-fail mealtballs. And even back then, she was baking, not frying them.

Eleanor's Meatballs
with a few variations from me
  • 1 to 1-1/4 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup water
  • 1 T crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup onions finely chopped (optional)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
The secret to Eleanor's meatballs is that she first combines all the ingredients except the meat. The meat goes in last because as you might know, the less you handle ground meat, the lighter the meatballs.
Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl combine bread crumbs and water (start with a 1/2 cup water and see if you need more). I like the consistency to be like thick hummus. Add egg, parsley, red pepper flakes, onion, salt and pepper. Add ground meat and gently incorportate. I use my hands. Form 20 meatballs (about 1-1/4 inches in diameter)- that's what I usually get from this mixture. Place meatballs on baking sheet prepared with cooking spray. Bake 20 minutes and place into a pot of simmering tomato sauce for ten minutes. Serve over spaghetti or linguini. When I made this last week I also sauteed some spicy chicken sausages that were a welcome complement to the meatballs.
Both meatballs and sausages (which I sliced into 1 inch rounds) went into a bubbly pot of store-bought Classico spaghetti sauce. And then landed atop a plate of linguini. A garnish of red pepper flakes and parsley would have been nice, but I couldn't wait.

Later in the week I heated the meatballs and sausages and created an ooey, gooey mozzarella filled, toasted pita sandwich that was so messy I had to eat it with a fork. As you can imagine, it was simply heaven. Thanks Eleanor!

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