Meatballs are a good idea no matter the season. They are quick to make, freezer friendly, and make great leftovers. I keep several pounds of local omega-3 rich grass-fed ground beef in my garage freezer at all times. It’s a staple for weeknight meals including these meatballs as well as quick tacos, skillet meals and salads. It’s my favorite “fast food” and one that keeps my family fed and nourished.
I’ve finally landed on a meatball recipe that I have been playing with for quite awhile and I’m happy to share it with you. It’s a few different recipes and techniques put together that I think make the most flavorful, tender meatballs. A few key components to this recipe that make it work great – sauteing the onion, garlic and seasonings along with toasting the panko produces much more flavor than raw onions, garlic and soaked bread. The addition of ricotta as well as a light hand while mixing makes a light and tender meatball. The addition of an acid as well as umami rich Worcestershire sauce are unique additions that one of our local restaurants uses. Finally, a cooking technique I learned that doesn’t involve getting my stove all messy from browning meatballs in oil – cooking the meatballs in muffin tins. The rendered fat essentially bastes the meatball to keep it from drying out while the top gets nice and browned.
I hope you get a chance to make this recipe – it makes 24 meatballs and can be easily cut in half, but with them being so freezer friendly, save some for later or share some with a friend!
Roasted Grass-Fed Meatballs
Meatballs are a great make ahead dish and this is my go-to recipe. Taking a few minutes to saute the onions, garlic and panko makes for a flavorful, well seasoned meatball. Perfect next to a side of pasta and broccoli but equally tasty stuffed into toasted garlic bread with melted mozzarella cheese.
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup red onion, minced
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 lbs grass-fed ground beef
- ¾ cup whole milk ricotta
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup minced fresh parsley
- ¼ cup minced fresh basil
- ½ cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, for brushing
- For serving: Chopped parsley, marinara sauce, grated parmigiano reggiano
Preheat oven to 375°.
Heat the olive oil in medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add red onions, salt and pepper and saute until tender. Add garlic, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes and saute for 1 minute. Add panko and cook until slightly golden. Remove from heat and let cool.
In a large mixing bowl, add the ground beef, ricotta, eggs, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, parsley, basil and cheese. Using clean hands, thoroughly mix the ingredients. Add the cooled panko mixture and incorporate all the ingredients – do not overmix.
To cook meatballs, use a spring loaded scoop to form a round a little larger than a golf ball, about 2 ounces. Place in a greased muffin tin and brush with olive oil and bake about 30 minutes. Meatballs are finished when they have an evenly browned surface and the internal temperature has reached about 150°.
To serve: Transfer meatballs to a pan of warm marinara sauce and simmer for a few minutes. Top with parsley and grated parmigiano reggiano.
To freeze meatballs: place raw meatballs on a small sheet pan and once frozen, transfer to a zip top freezer bag. Meatballs can be cooked from frozen but will take a little longer.