As you may have heard, I threw a surprise Valentine's Day/birthday supper for my husband and about 15 of our closest friends. I decided to make it Italian (the culture of romance, right?)...which included a spaghetti with my favorite marinara (Putanesca) and a big bowl of Aglio e Olio, which is just spaghett dressed in a sauce made of an outrageous number of cloves of fresh garlic sliced very thin, and then sauteed in an equally outrageous amount of olive oil in a cast iron skillet. You have to be very careful with this, as not to scorch the garlic. Then you pour it all over the cooked spaghetti, add about 3/4 of a bunch of fresh chopped parsley, shredded Romano cheese, cracked black pepper and sea salt. Toss and VOILA! I also baked a bunch of bread and made a Trifle for dessert.
But back to the meatballs.
I made (ahead of time) a batch of about 8 dozen meatballs. I don't use ground beef much anymore, and have experimented a lot with different ways to make meatballs that would actually taste good with no beef in them. I always try to keep meatballs on hand in my freezer. I make them up, bake them off in the oven until they are about 3/4 done, then pull them out and cool. I put them in ziplock freezer bags (gallon sized) in nice orderly rows and store them flat in the freezer. You can pull them out and toss into sauce for spaghetti and meatballs, you can make meatball subs (the Irishman's favorite sandwich), or come up with any number of ways to use them as a main dish, like...meatballs and mushroom gravy over either mashed potatoes or rice. They are economical, tasty and a sure fire pleaser.
I like to make meatballs by the billions. LOL, just kidding, although I do generally make them about 8-10 dozen at a time. It's a bit of a messy job, and so I like to get it all done and get on with my real life. Here's the ingredients list:
3 pounds ground turkey
2 pounds bulk sausage
black pepper, garlic powder and salt to taste
oregano (again-how much do you like?)
About 4 cups of smashed crackers
2 medium, sized onions, diced small
Before I go any farther with this, I want to clarify a few things. One--I buy a good quality pork sausage made by our little local grocer. The turkey I buy is just the frozen 1 pound chubs of whatever I find on sale. But the sausage is important, so make sure you like the one you're buying, unless you make your own--(my 2010 summer project).
The other thing is this: I am terrible about measuring spices and such in recipes like this. I know that I like lots of garlic and black pepper, so I use good amounts of these. I know that I am sensitive to salt, so I use less of it. Remember that some spices diminish with freezing, and take note of that. Basil and Oregano both stand up relatively well, although basil can get bitter. I use my own organically grown dried basil, and I know what's there. I am on my last gallon sized bag of it that I grew over 5 years ago, and it's still wonderful. Always crush it between your palms as you add it to your food...
Mix the ingredients, with your bare hands (okay--you can wear gloves. I always just take off my wedding rings and jump in up to my elbows.) Mix them up really well in a big bowl. If the mixture feels too dry, add another egg. If it's too wet, add some more crackers. [Side note here: I used to always use oatmeal in them like I do in meatloaf. I did it like this because my mother did. Everybody has their own idea about this. But one time, I had had a couple of parties and had several boxes of opened crackers of different kinds and well..I hate wasting stuff if I can find somewhere to use it. So, I took all those stale crackers, put 'em in a bag and rolled them to smithereens with my rolling pin. The resulting difference in the meatballs was remarkable. Now I try to always have crackers and use them.]
Once your meatballs are all mixed up, it's time for the fun part. I use a small ice cream scoop to measure mine. It makes the meatballs a good size for the subs and they are very manageable. So, scoop some out, wet your hand s a little, and start rolling them around clockwise in your palms. If you cup your hands just a little, it will make a perfectly round meatball. The picture above shows you a cookie sheet with about 2 dozen meatballs on it, all ready for the oven. I line the baking sheet with foil and spray with canola spray. There's very little fat from the turkey and pork sausage and the mess is minimal. I only bake one sheet at a time, as my oven is a little cranky and I want them all cooked evenly. Middle rack at about 350 degrees. It takes about 15 minutes or so is all.
Below is the finished product.
This picture looks a little darker than they actually are, but you get the idea. After they cool, bag and freeze.