Okay, fellow Urban Preppers, it’s time to stock our freezer for those days and nights where the thought of cooking a meal from scratch again is enough to make us want to curl up in the corner and weep. WHY DO THESE PEOPLE NEED TO EAT EVERY SINGLE DAY???
We are all being encouraged to do a bit of a bigger shop and do it less frequently so now’s the time to buy those big, clubpacks of meat and whip up big batch items like these meatballs. Add to that, the fact that online ordering now means you are going to have to wait up to two weeks to be able to get groceries delivered, and that means thinking ahead, cooking wisely and keeping your freezer stocked properly.
Keep these in the freezer until you need them and then use them for spaghetti, make half of them into really small little meatballs that you can throw into a soup to turn a box of chicken broth, a handful of chopped greens, an onion and gnarly old carrot into lunch.
You can also get creative and swap out the parmesan for, say, feta and switch to mint instead of basil and even throw in some ground lamb instead of sausage and then eat them over rice with tzatziki or throw them into a wrap. This is the basic formula for making a big batch of meatballs but you can change the flavour profile as well as the size of the meatballs
Big Batch Meatballs
approx 1.5 kg (3 1/3 lbs) of meat – I like to do about 600g ground beef, 500 grams ground pork, 350 or 400g sweet Italian sausage but the ratios are up to you
1.5 cups panko or toasted, dried bread crumbs (we are not wasting during a pandemic, so all stale bread is dried out in the oven and then crushed into breadcrumbs, right?)
1.5 cups milk (if you are low on milk use half milk/half water)
1.5 cups freshly grated parmesan
about 1/2 cup chopped, fresh basil
about 1/2 cup chopped, fresh Italian parsley
1 tbls kosher salt
20 grinds of black pepper
1.5 cups grated onion on coarse grater or approx 3 small onions
3 or 4 cloves garlic, grated on a rasp
Combine the panko and the milk in a bowl and set aside while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
In another bowl, whisk the eggs and stir in the salt, pepper, parmesan, basil and parsley.
Now, I like to mix these with the paddle attachment in the Kitchen Aid because it’s a lot of meat but you can also do it by hand. If you do use the mixer, don’t over mix, mix on the lowest speed possible and stop as soon as it’s all combined. If doing it by hand, just mix thoroughly each time but without kneading the mixture – overworking makes them tough.
Okay, put the ground meats in the bowl of the mixer and remove the sausage from the casings (discard the casings of course). Throw in the egg/cheese mixture and give it about 1 minute to combine thoroughly on low speed. Add in the grated onion and the milk soaked panko and turn the machine on low again and mix until just incorporated – another minute, tops.
TIP: before you declare them ready to roll into balls, take a pinch of the mixture, fry it up in a pan and taste it to make sure your seasonings are to your liking
preheat the oven to 400F
Form the meatballs and put them on parchment lined baking sheets. I use a small ice cream scoop that holds just under 1/4 cup and that gives me a decent sized, 2″ meatball. Using this scoop I get about 48 meatballs but you can make them whatever size you like. Because we are always going to heat these up before eating, I don’t worry if they are a bit undercooked after baking them off so even if you make them a bit bigger, stick to 30 minutes in the oven. Pop the trays of meatballs into your oven.
After you roast the meatballs for 25-30 minutes, remove the pans and let them sit until they are cool enough to handle. Because of the fat content, there will be some congealed fat clinging to them and I use my hands to wipe all of that off and scrape that all to one end of the pan before they cool completely. You can avoid this step if you bake them sitting on a wire rack that you place on top of the baking sheet and do them in batches but I prefer to just get my hands dirty and do it this way.
Once they are totally cooled down, set aside any meatballs you want to use in the next day or two and then put the rest on parchment lined sheet pan that will fit in the freezer. Leave them in the freezer until they are frozen solid and transfer them to a freezer bag. This way you can just reach in and a few as you need them.
Reheat them, directly from the freezer, in simmering sauce or soup broth for 15-20 minutes OR in a 350F oven for about 15 minutes.