Ultimate Miniature Meatballs

best ever marinaraThese ultimate miniature meatballs are hands down the best meatballs I’ve ever eaten.  The recipe is a slight adaptation of Tyler Florence’s The Ultimate Spaghetti and Meatballs.

 I came across the recipe in one of my new favorite cookbook reads, The Marshall Field’s Cookbook, but it can also be found online, along with many helpful reader reviews, on food network.com.

The basic steps to making these meatballs are as follows: 1) Make a panade. Soaking bread or store bought crumbs in milk then adding to the meat makes a huge difference. A panade makes meat melt-in-your-mouth moist and tender.  2) Saute your aromatics. Onion, garlic, parsley, and basil become soft, fragrant, and flavorful when sautéed in EVOO, cooled, and added to the meat mixture. 3). Shape the meatballs. Although it takes longer to make them, I prefer smaller meatballs. They don’t take as long to cook through, and my kids prefer the miniature size.

The meat mixture is an equal combination of ground chuck and ground pork. I have experimented with various meat combinations, even once using beef/pork/veal. The half pork half beef combo has been the most tender and flavorful so far.

The original recipe calls for pan frying the meatballs before baking them, but I skipped this step, choosing to bake them until done and finish with a quick broil to get a rustic, slightly crisp exterior. If you prefer more tender, smooth meatballs, simply bake them until a meat thermometer registers at least 165.

I serve these meatballs over spaghetti pasta, sprinkled with parmesan, and topped with my best marinara sauce. Delicious! Any leftover meatballs can be stored in a ziploc, covered with marinara, and reheated in individual portions in the microwave.

12

Ultimate Miniature Meatballs

This slight adaptation of Tyler Florence's recipe yields dozens of meatballs that are moist, flavorful, and delicious. Make a batch and freeze some for later.

10 min

30 min

40 min

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lb ground chuck
  • 1 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 4 slices bread, crusts removed (I used wheat bread)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup finely diced onion
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 TB EVOO
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2/3 cup parmesan, grated
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 TB fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • SAUTE AROMATICS:
  • Heat EVOO in skillet; add onion, garlic, parsley & basil.
  • Saute until soft, sprinkling with salt & pepper.
  • Put mixture in fridge to cool off before adding to meat.
  • MAKE PANADE:
  • Put milk and bread slices in bowl. Let bread soak for at least 10 minutes.
  • MIX & FORM MEATBALLS:
  • In large bowl, place chuck and pork.
  • Add beaten egg, cooled aromatics, and seasonings.
  • Remove bread from milk; add to meat mixture.
  • Mix well with gloved hands, incorporating all ingredients but not over handling meat.
  • Shape into small balls and place atop parchment or wax paper.
  • Freeze or refrigerate until ready to cook.
  • To Cook:
  • Arrange meatballs on parchment or foil lined cookie sheet (do not over crowd meatballs).
  • Bake at 400 for 30 minutes, turning balls halfway during cooking time.
  • Broil on top rack for several minutes to achieve crisp exterior.
  • Test for doneness with meat thermometer. Meat is done at 165.
  • Serve over pasta and with marinara or spaghetti sauce.
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