20 August 2015

Alton Brown's Baked Meatballs

If I want meat in my pasta sauce, I usually just go for the ground beef.  It's so easy to just plop a hunk of ground beef in a pan and start browning it and breaking it up.  Add a few seasonings and some marinara and, BAM!, dinner is ready in 30 minutes.  Sometimes, though, it's fun to get fancy.  And when I think fancy, I think meatballs.
For a while it seemed that every time a new Good Eats episode aired, I rushed out and got whatever I needed to make the featured recipes at home.  I think it's because, at least it seems to me, those first few seasons focused on the basics, and the classic no frills way to make a lot of dishes we all know and love.  I learned to make a lot of things that I still make to this day, these baked meatballs being one of them.
The recipe is very straight-forward.  I adapted it a little, though.  The original calls for ground lamb, and I do love lamb.  It's just that it is so expensive here.  If I do get ground lamb, I usually end up making gyros, but that's another post.  I usually just go for beef and pork when making these meatballs and it turns out just fine.
As far as assembly goes, it's just a matter of putting all the ingredients together and mixing them up.  Simple.  Then, I get to use my digital scale.  The 1.5 ounce portions make for just the right size meatballs that fit perfectly in mini muffin cups; thus, allowing the meatballs to retail the shape of a ball.  Brilliant!
They taste amazing, too.  The meatballs have a firm, but not tough texture.  I also like that fact that I can use dried herbs, too, as they give the meatballs the right amount of Italian flavor.  The spinach is also a nice tough for cleverly hiding a vegetable for the picky eaters in your group.  And juicy, these meatballs are delightfully juicy.
Pile them on top of a nest of noodles or even use them for meatball subs, these meatballs are sure to please.

Baked Meatballs

1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground beef
5 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained thoroughly
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
1 whole egg
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs, divided

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Combine the pork, beef, spinach, cheese, egg, basil, parsley, garlic powder, salt, red pepper flakes, and 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs in a mixing bowl. Gently mix all of the ingredients until they are well incorporated.

Place the remaining 1/2 cup of bread crumbs in a smaller bowl. Using a scale, weigh meatball mixture into 1.5-ounce portions, and shape into rounds, roll the meatballs in the bread crumbs, and place in a miniature muffin cup.

Bake the meatballs for 20 minutes or until cooked through and golden brown and delicious.

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