Sage and parmesan Meatballs

One of my all-time favorite “just got home from work and I’m starving” meals is just meatballs. Not meatballs with sauce. Not meatballs with pasta. Just meatballs in a dish with a little parmesan and a dash of soy sauce. I’m not even kidding.

I normally have a batch of meatballs in the freezer just for occasions like this – but given that it was summer and I was eating a lot of avocado toast… and then it was winter and I was moving and not filling my freezer. It got to be just about now when I realized I was meatball-less. Over the Christmas break, the local grocery store was having a killer sale on ground meat – and specifically the ones ideal for meatballs. So I stocked up and have no excuse anymore.


Since I was working from a pre-blended ground meat, I didn’t stick to my old favorite recipe. I barely measured anything just went off my intuition and what I wanted to taste. This season I’ve been putting sage into just about anything I possibly can. I’m not sure there has been a meal that hasn’t had it. Last night for dinner I just cooked up a sweet potato and tossed some sage in there – why not. But the meatballs this time turned out good. Where as my original recipe definitely has a “salty” taste, these ones are a bit more subtle. There is still a fair amount of the same ingredients but if it’s possible I think the sage flavors make it more of a “gentle winter” flavor. Is that a way we describe flavors? I’m not sure.

Notes:

  • CONSISTENCY // Like any recipe there is a bit of variability that comes with getting the ideal consistency. You can play with the number of eggs and panko flakes to get the right amount of wetness you want. I ended up adding a bit more panko flakes to get the consistency that I wanted.
  • MUFFIN TINS // If you are insecure about your ball rolling skills or care about messy ovens, I recommend cooking your meatballs in muffin tins. It keeps them all secure and controls the drippings. An added benefit is that it helps you monitor the ball size for consistency.

Either way, these suckers are easy as pie. I made them on a Sunday night before making this butternut squash dish for dinner ... while wearing one of my favorite face masks. Mindy Khaling wrote about the mask on Instagram as a cure for all the make-up she wore on her book tour. I lead a very opposite life but still love the mask.

Here it goes:
(Step 1) Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with foil. Ideally use a sheet that has a small lip to it so that any liquid from the baking process doesn’t end up on the bottom of your oven.

(Step 2) Combine all the ingredients in a bowl except the ground meat. You want these to be well mixed together but you don’t want to over work the meat – so having the remainder of the ingredients blended pre-meat is important.

(Step 3) Add the ground meat to the bowl and use your hands to combine the ingredients. Mix until you feel like its well blended. Don’t worry about this too much because as you begin to make the meatballs you can mix more. I like to make sure all my meatballs get the parsley (for good looks) and pancetta (for taste) – but that’s me.

(Step 4) Now using a spoon begin to portion out and roll your meatballs. Using a medium to small dining spoon helps me to keep the meatballs about the same size. I try to go for small to medium sizes because they cook faster.

(Step 5) Bake for about 25 minutes. If you aren’t sure whether they are done, just crack one open and see if the inside is still pink. Now you can eat this one for a snack.

(Step 6) Serve… or store them. If you are putting them in the freezer, let them cool completely before you put them in a freezer storage bag.

Shopping List (18 meatballs)
1 medium / small onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, diced
2 eggs
1 lb of ground meat (beef and pork)
3 oz of pancetta, diced (approx. 1 cup?)
1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan
10 sage leaves, chopped
3/4 cup panko flakes (approx.)

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