You could carve out some time today to get to the store for the ingredients for these meatballs, make them for dinner, and still have a stash of them in your freezer. On a crazy, harried week night, you could pull out a few meatballs, drop them into some broth, add some noodles and have soup. Or, you could top them on a mini hamburger bun, add some sauce and create mini meatball sandwiches. Meatballs should be a staple freezer item. I have tried, in an effort to save some time, to buy a bag of pre-made frozen meatballs and keep them in the fridge. But their texture resembles sawdust.
The problem was, I had already made this version by Mario Batali; and my fate was sealed. Batali’s addition of pine nuts makes the meatballs moist; the fresh Italian parsley makes the flavor intense. I’ve changed a few of the ingredients here — I substitute oatmeal for bread crumbs, because that’s what my Mom did when she made meatloaf. Purely, a sentimental reason for doing that — Mario probably wouldn’t like it; but it makes the recipe mine. Double, or triple, the recipe and keep them stocked in your freezer for harried week nights.
- 3 cups day old bread, cut into 1 inch cubes, or 3 cups of oatmeal
- 1 1/4 lbs ground beef
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3/4 cup grated pecorino cheese
- 1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, baked for 8 minutes in a 400 degree oven
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Tomato sauce for cooking
- In a shallow bowl, soak the bread cubes in water.
- Drain the bread cubes and squeeze with your fingers to press out the excess moisture (make sure you do this well).
- Combine the bread cubes, beef, eggs, garlic, pecorino, parsley, toasted pine nuts, salt and pepper, and using your hands, mix the ingredients well.
- With wet hands, form the mixture into 12-15 meatballs, each smaller than a tennis ball, but larger than a golf ball.
- In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the oil over medium heat until almost smoking.
- Add the meatballs and cook until deep golden brown on all sides, about 10 minutes.
- Add the tomato sauce and reduce the heat to a simmer.
- Cook all the meatballs for 30 minutes.
Eat them, and store the left overs in the freezer.