Sunday, November 7, 2010

Meatballs & Convenience

Sometimes you want an easy meal
Ground lamb

My first job was in a restaurant, where I eventually become a prep cook, and I actually use that experience more than I do my calculus, hard won in high school and college. 

Working as a commercial cook taught me a number of things; most of all that it doesn't take much more time to make a big batch of something than a small batch, and I apply this to my food.  By taking 10 more minutes and making a batch 6x as big as normal I can then make the main ingredient for 8 to 10 dinners in the future.  Efficient.   

This post is about making meatballs, and, and then different meal ideas you can use these meatballs in.  you'll find the recipe at the bottom of this post.   I make a big batch like this because once the meatballs are cooked and ready, dinner is only 15 minutes away. Pop them in the microwave and serve. 

Berkshire shoulder roast, sliced. 
I chose the shoulder roast because it has about the perfect fat content, roughly 30%, to offset the very lean grass fed beef and grass fed lamb. 
The first of the pork on top of the lamb
You can see the color difference.  Before I grind the meat I freeze it, or at least get it slushy.  easier to handle, easier to cube, and I want to keep the fat solid, not liquefied.  Start with the meat cold, keep it cold during the process. 
Chilling the coarse-ground meat
After coarse grinding the 3 meats; lamb, beef chuck and pork shoulder roast, mix in the dry flavorings and egg, and then put it into the freezer for 20 minutes, to keep it well-chilled. 
Course grind meat with dry ingredients added and mixed

After it's chilled, I run it through the grinder a second time.  A second grind completely incorporates the ingredients.  I don't add the spinach before grinding because it turns into a liquid.  I want to see the large green bits in the finished product. 

Fine grind
Once ground, I mix in the spinach and form into meatballs.  My restaurant training has me making them 1.5 ounces each.  You can either freeze them raw, as shown, or bake them for 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven and then freeze them. 
Raw meatballs, arranged to freeze individually

Raw meatballs, cooked before freezing
  3lbs lamb (leg, shoulder, stew meat, whatever)
  3lbs pork shoulder roast
  3lbs ground chuck
  2lbs fresh spinach
  3 cups Parmesan cheese
  6 eggs
  3 tablespoons dried basil
  3 tablespoons dried parsley
  1 tablespoon minced garlic
  1 tablespoon salt
  3 cups bread crumbs

  Course grind all the meats.
  reserve half the bread crumbs, add half to the meat
  Add all other ingredients and mix
  Fine grind the mixture
  Chop spinach and mix into mixture

 Form into 1.5oz meatballs, and then coat with bread crumbs.
 Bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees
 Remove, allow to cool, and then eat or package for freezing.

 Serving suggestions: 
  Meatballs for spaghetti
  Coated with mushroom soup mix for a main course for dinner
  With a marinara sauce, excellent meatball sandwiches
   Raw as kabobs with vegetable chunks between
  Sliced with feta, yogurt and flat bread as gyros


Joanne Rigutto said...


I like to make big batches for quick meals during the week. I try to take one day a week off and do my big batch cooking on that day. It's so nice to have a quick, tastey meal that I can just pop into the microwave, heat and eat, then head back out to work.

Anonymous said...

sweet n sour meatballs with rice...

Margaret WV said...

What kind/brand of grinder?

Bruce King said...

I use a kitchaide stand mixer with their meat grinder attachment. It works pretty well, pretty easy to clean, and makes the mixer that much more useful.
This is the mixer i use.

This is the grinder I use:

Bruce King said...

Sweet and sour. yum. Right now fresh cranberries are everywhere. A sweet, tart cranberry glaze would be good.