Gluten free, Main courses

Italian meatballs

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Italian meatballs with garlic, oregano and parsley
Italian meatballs with garlic, oregano and parsley

Meatballs are one of my family’s favorites. Pair them effortlessly with tomato sauce and spaghetti or try them with sautéed mushrooms and rice. Make a big batch and you’ll easily get at least two meals out of them.

When we lived in Italy, you could buy fresh meatballs rolled out daily in the local butcher shop. I asked questions and learned how to make these through trial and error. Here are some tidbits of wisdom I absorbed from the Italian nonnas (grandmas) and chefs like Mamma Agata about making them.

Listen to nonna, a wealth of cooking knowledge.
  1. Use a mixture of both beef and pork meat. Use mild Italian sausage for the pork meat.
  2. Soak your bread in milk. The bread should be a sliced French or Italian peasant loaf (like Udi’s gluten-free whole grain bread, Parisian Star peasant bread or Dave’s Killer Bread – organic white bread.) Day old is best.
  3. Add finely shredded Parmesan cheese to the mixture. Buy the good stuff and shred it yourself.
  4. Go easy on the garlic. A little goes a long way. If you use too much garlic, all you’ll taste is garlic.

Follow these tips and you’ll have a moister, softer and more flavorful meatball. Your guests will say…”mamma mia…now that’s a meatball!”

I suggest gluten-free bread and flour below in this recipe. But go ahead and substitute with regular bread and flour if this is not a concern for you. They are traditionally made with just regular flour and bread. You’ll notice there isn’t salt on the ingredient list. That is because the Parmesan cheese is salty. If you decide to leave out the cheese, add in a pinch or two of salt.

Ingredients

5 slices Udi’s gluten free whole grain bread, crusts removed. (Udi’s slices of bread are a little smaller than standard bread. Reduce to about 4  slices regular bread if you prefer, crusts removed.)
½ cup whole milk
½ cup water
1 lb lean ground beef
3 – 4 Isernio’s mild Italian pork sausage links, meat removed from casings (If you don’t have Isernio’s sausage, this equals about ¼ lb mild Italian sausage).
2 large eggs
1 tsp fresh oregano, diced (or a pinch or two of dried oregano).
1 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, diced
1 small garlic clove, smashed and then finely minced
3 ½ tbsp. finely grated Parmesan cheese
6 – 7 tbsp all-purpose gluten-free flour mix, (or regular all-purpose flour).

Method

Remove the crusts from the bread and soak in the milk and water for about five minutes. In a large bowl, add the beef, sausage, eggs, oregano, parsley, garlic and cheese.

The meatball mixture
The meatball mixture

Gently squeeze the excess milk from the bread and add the bread to the bowl.

Gently squeeze the bread
Gently squeeze the bread

Next, combine all the ingredients together in the bowl so that everything gets incorporated well. It’s best to use your hands for this, but you can use a wooden spoon if you prefer.

Use your hands to incorporate everything
Use your hands to incorporate everything

 

Next place the flour on a plate. Spoon out a heaping tablespoon or so of the meatball mixture. Gently roll between the palms of your hands. The meatball should be about the size of a golf ball. Do not squeeze or squish them too much. Gently roll the meatball in the flour. Tap off any excess and set aside on a plate. Continue this process until you have used up all the meat.

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line a large baking sheet with foil. Drizzle the foil with a little olive oil. Place the meatballs onto the baking sheet. Space them out a little. You don’t want them too crowded. Bake in the oven until they are golden brown, about 35 to 45 minutes. Turn them over about half way through the baking time. Remove from the oven and serve immediately. Or spoon them onto a platter and let them cool. You can refrigerate them to be used next day in your favorite sauce.

Meatballs ready to cook
Meatballs ready to cook

Classic Italian meatballs

Everyone’s favorite – Italian meatballs! (Gluten-free too!) Pair these with your favorite tomato sauce and spaghetti or try them with sauteed mushrooms and a little parsley.

  • 5 slices Udi's gluten-free bread (crusts removed. (Udi’s slices of bread are a little smaller than standard bread. Reduce to about 4 slices regular bread if you prefer, crusts removed.))
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 3 to 4 Isernio's mild Italian sausage links (meat removed from casings. (If you don’t have Isernio’s sausage, this equals about ¼ lb mild Italian sausage).)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano (diced (or a pinch or two of dried oregano))
  • 1 tbsp fresh Italian parsley (diced)
  • 1 small garlic clove (smashed, then finely minced)
  • 3 1/2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 6 to 7 tbsp all-purpose gluten-free flour mix ((or regular all-purpose flour))
  1. Remove the crusts from the bread and soak in the milk and water for about five minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, add the beef, sausage, eggs, oregano, parsley, garlic and cheese.
  3. Gently squeeze the excess milk from the bread and add the bread to the bowl.
  4. Next, combine all the ingredients together in the bowl so that everything gets incorporated well. It’s best to use your hands for this, but you can use a wooden spoon if you prefer.
  5. Next place the flour on a plate. Spoon out a heaping tablespoon or so of the meatball mixture. Gently roll between the palms of your hands. The meatball should be about the size of a golf ball. Do not squeeze or squish them too much. Gently roll the meatball in the flour. Tap off any excess and set aside on a plate. Continue this process until you have used up all the meat.
  6. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line a large baking sheet with foil. Drizzle the foil with a little olive oil. Place the meatballs onto the baking sheet. Space them out a little. You don’t want them too crowded. Bake in the oven until they are golden brown, about 35 to 45 minutes. Turn them over about half way through the baking time.
  7. Remove from the oven and serve immediately. Or spoon them onto a platter and let them cool. You can refrigerate them to be used next day in your favorite sauce.
Use a good quality mild Italian sausage.

Isernio's mild Italian sausage
Isernio’s mild Italian sausage

 

4 Comments

  1. These look delicious!

     
  2. Erik Miller

    These look incredible! Can’t wait to try to make them. Thanks!

     

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