Ever wondered how those big juicy mouth-watering balls of meat sitting on restaurant-made spaghetti are made? As succulent as it looks, making it is no intricate job. For this feature, we’ll be teaching you how to cook meatballs and how to even take it to the next divine level. Here, we’ll show you how to do it both in the stovetop and in the oven. Meatballs are a versatile dish. It can stand alone as a perfect meal but it can also serve as the ideal accompaniment for pasta and other dishes.
How to prepare meatballs
A meatball has three major components – the meat, the binder, and the seasoning. The success of your dish will depend significantly on how smart you are in proportioning each ingredient and how you mix them.
For the meat, you can choose any ground variety. Popular choices are beef, pork, and chicken, or a mixture of any of which. If you are after a juicy and tender output, select fattier meat. On the other hand, for a healthier option, choose leaner ones with a few tablespoons of olive or any plant-based oil for moisture. The idea here is to keep the ball intact when shaped and the thing that does the job is the binder. The famous pick for most meatballs is a combination of bread crumbs, egg yolk, and milk. In order to give life to meatballs instead of being just a chunk of fatty substances, seasonings will do the trick. Salt and pepper are a must while some add other ingredients as dried herbs, fresh vegetables, cheese, and other liquid flavours.
Here, we’ll show you a classic component of meatballs but feel free to jazz it up by adding your favourite ingredients:
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 egg
- ½ cup bread crumbs
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon soy sauce
- ¼ cup chopped onion
- ¼ cup milk
All you need to do is to mix them altogether in a bowl. Avoid over-stirring as it may deliver bad texture to your finished product. Next comes the fun part. Uniformly shape them into balls of your preferred size. Letting your hands directly dive in and go dirty does a more favourable job because you can regulate how much pressure you put on the meat and you’re avoiding too much pressing.
Now, if you’re not ready to hit the stove yet, you can store these first on the freezer. This is done by placing them on a tray with a gap of 2 inches in between each. Cover the tray with a plastic wrap to protect from any drips. Believe it or not, when kept properly, these goodies can last for more than a month in the freezer.
How to cook in the stovetop?
There are two ways on how to cook meatballs in a stovetop. You may either fry or simmer it. If you want a crispy-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside sort of meatballs, your go-to technique is to fry it. Simply fill a fourth of the total depth of a skillet with oil. For bigger sizes, fill up the pan with more oil until at least more than half of the meatballs is submerged. For a more crunchy crust and a more flavorful distribution of tastes, try the pan-searing method which uses less oil. When it’s heated enough, drop meatballs and fry. When the bottom sides have browned, turn to the other side. Approximately, 15 minutes is enough though there is actually no exact time of cooking because it varies depending on the size and fat components of your meatball.
Try the simmering option too if you’re going for a less greasy meal. This is applicable for dishes which have soups and sauces. When the stock or sauce is already simmering, drop the meatballs and cook for 30 minutes with the pan covered. Check if the meat has been thoroughly cooked by trying out a piece. Cleave through the middle and see if the insides are tender and light brown in color.
How to cook in the oven?
When you do the oven method, preheat the oven to 400 ֯F while preparing the meatballs. Arrange them on a tray lined with baking sheet ensuring there is a two-inch gap in between each. Bake for about 25-30 minutes. To test for doneness, do the toothpick test and see if it comes out clean when pricked. If you have an oven thermometer, this gives a more certain successful result when it reaches an internal temperature of 160 ֯F. Remember, if your meat is comprised of fatless components, it tends to cook faster so make sure to check the appearance from time to time.
Now that you know how to cook meatballs in an oven, you’ll find that this is lot less messy and a lot easier. If you’re cooking in bulk, it saves you time and it gives you uniform cooking of each piece. What’s even greater is that it saves you a couple of Band-Aids for possible oil splattering.
How to vivify a meatball dish?
We all know by now that meatballs are perfect toppings for pasta. They are also good accompaniments for soups and stew. Have you ever tried to top tiny crunchy meatballs on pizza and salad? If you haven’t, you are missing out on all the exciting gastronomic experience. It’s also a good filling for sandwiches and sliders. When you make it a partner of another dish, make sure the ingredients you’re using compliment the sauce and overall makeup of the dish. You wouldn’t want your sodium levels to shoot up and ruin a perfect dinner.
Aside from these creative hacks, others innovate by putting filling inside a meatball. Famous ones are mozzarella-stuffed recipes. This is done by placing a tiny block of cheese in the middle during shaping. It will melt during the cooking process creating that satisfying stringy and gooey texture.
You can also make a classic meatball and go all out on the dips and sauce. Instead of buying the usual ranch dip or a basic ketchup, why not make your own?
Isn’t cooking meatballs a breeze? If you don’t have plenty of time, you can prepare these in advance and just toss them on the fryer whenever you need it. Whether you are a busy individual or a bold chef out for some cooking experiment, this recipe is for you.