So what do you do when your Darling is not a fan of candy or flowers? What do you do when your Numero Uno is a guy? What do you do when your Sweetie Pie is a guy and you don’t want to buy him yet another bag of Doritos and dress it in a pretty ribbon?
You make him swoon with meatballs and serve it with crusty bread, wine and little message-bearing toothpicks posted like billboards in central Florida – one every hundred feet – or in this case, one per meatball:
: * (this is my best attempt at an emoticon kissy-face)
I didn’t want to put them in sauce with pasta for this post. They totally rock that role – but let’s try to be creative.
Use your imagination. . . .
Simmered in bar-b-que sauce for a totally manly appetizer?
On a hoagie roll for meatball subs? (OK, not exactly creative, but it’s an utterly delicious option.)
In meatball soup, or chopped up on pizza, or sliced and thrown into a frittata?
In an omlette with pepperoni, mozzarella, and basil?
Skewered and shish kebabbed with peppers and onions?
So many possibilities. . . . Even just naked with nothin’ but a toothpick to cling to.
All very viable possibilities.
Your house is going to smell like an Italian bistro tonight. . . . If that doesn’t make your Sweetheart swoon, what will??
There are several things I love about this recipe:
1. It uses only one kind of meat. I don’t have the time or desire to search out three different meats. Just give me some ground chuck and call it good. And guess what? They turn out really smooth and juicy because of this particular variety of ground beef. If you go with a lower fat beef, expect the meatballs to be a little tougher, and just plain not as tasty.
2. They bake in the oven. That means no standing over a stove flipping. It also means some of the fat drains off. Double bonus.
3. If you have picky eaters who don’t like chunks (like the onions) you can substitute onion powder and they still turn out super tasty.
4. I use only dried herbs in this recipe – because usually on a meatball type night, I don’t have the time to fuss with chopping and preparing three different kinds of fresh herbs – nor do I want to have to worry about having them on hand. I have the dried herbs in my cupboard – grab them, GO!
5. These are popular enough in our house that I sometimes serve them chicken nugget style. . . as though they are a main dish. I just add on the sides, which – on those nights – would be something along the lines of french fries and veggie sticks. C’mon now. Don’t judge. We all need those nights.
6. This recipe makes a big batch – around 70 modest sized meatballs – that’s plenty to eat now and plenty to freeze for quick dinners during the week.
Italian Style Beef Meatballs
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup buttermilk
3 pounds ground beef (ground chuck)
1 large egg
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely grated fresh parmesan
3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1/4 cup dried parsley flakes,
1 teaspoon dried oregano, rubbed
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
In a small bowl, mix bread crumbs and buttermilk. Stir until well combined. Set aside while you add all other ingredients to a large bowl.
Once all other ingredients are in the large bowl, and the breadcrumbs have had a moment to absorb the buttermilk, add the breadcrumb mixture to the meat mixture. Mix and knead the mixture with your hands until all ingredients are evenly distributed.
Scoop meat mixture by half tablespoon measures and form into balls.
Place balls on a baking rack over a cookie sheet or glass baking dish fitted with foil for easy clean-up.
Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Turn balls and cook for 10 – 15 minutes more, or until meat thermometer registers 145 degrees when inserted into one of the meatballs. Remove from oven, cover with foil and let stand for 10 minutes.