Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What's Cookin?: Turkey and Beef Meatballs...with bonus sauce recipes

One of the freezer meals I decided to make for my brother's family is meatballs.  Meatballs are multi-functional.  Not only can you eat them as is, but you can spice them up by adding them to different sauces.  Add them to spaghetti sauce for spaghetti and meatballs, add them to teriyaki sauce for teriyaki meatballs, add them to sweet and sour sauce....I could go on and on.  

I like the idea of adding 1/2 ground turkey and 1/2 ground beef to make them a little bit healthy.  I also baked them for the same reason.  These meatballs also stay moist.  You could always fry them if you like.  This recipe makes a ton of meatballs so be forewarned.  Cook them all and freeze the leftovers.  They make for a quick and easy defrosted meal for a busy work week.  For the record, this recipe was double kid approved!  ;0)

Sorry, in my meatball making haze, I forgot to snap a photo.

Turkey and Beef Meatballs
Adapted from:
Makes about 6+ dozen balls about 1 inch wide

1/2 onion, diced finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
12 oz. tomato sauce
1 1/2 c. dried Italian bread crumbs (you could use plain breadcrumbs or panko but I like the flavor of the Italian)
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. grated Parmesan or Romano cheese (optional; I left this out)
1/8 tsp. dried thyme, crushed
1/8 tsp. dried oregano, crushed
2 lb. ground turkey
2 lb. ground beef

1) In a pan over medium or medium-high heat, saute onions and garlic until onions are translucent.  Allow to cool before adding them to the mixture.

2) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Line your broiler pan with foil for easy clean up later.

3) In a large mixing bowl, combine your cooled cooked onion & garlic mixture with tomato sauce, bread crumbs, beaten eggs, salt, cheese (optional), dried thyme and dried oregano.  Combine ingredients well.  Add the ground turkey and beef and mix well with your hands (disposable gloves come in really handy here!).

4) Shape your meatballs by hand.  If you have a small cookie dough scooper, it will make nice and even balls.  Place meatballs on your broiler pan (so grease can drain while cooking).  Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes per batch.

5) When they're done cooking, remove meatballs to a plate or platter to cool.

6) Divide meatballs into meal-sized portions and freeze.  To prevent all the meatballs from freezing into one large meatball, you can freeze them individually on a cookie sheet first them add them to the freezer bags.  However, if you're already portioning them into meal-sized portions, you don't need to individually freeze them.

**When you're ready to eat them, defrost the meatballs completely and reheat them (microwave them or add them to sauces and heat through). **

Here's some bonus sauce ideas:

Spaghetti and Meatballs
1 jar spaghetti sauce

- Heat spaghetti sauce on the stove and add meatballs.  Heat until meatballs and warm all the way through.  Serve with pasta.
Sweet and Sour Meatballs

1 can (14 oz) pineapple chunks or bits, undrained
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. cider vinegar
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 can water chestnuts, drained and thinly sliced
1 green pepper, cut in thin strips

- Drain pineapple chunks or bits in a bowl (reserve syrup for later).  In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar and cornstarch.  Add reserved pineapple juice syrup, water, cider vinegar and soy sauce.  Stir over low heat until thick and bubbly.  Stir in meatballs, water chestnuts, green pepper and pineapple chunks or bits.  Heat to boiling and until meatballs and warmed through.
Teriyaki Meatballs

2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. soy sauce
1 can (14 oz.) beef broth
1/4 c. sake (Japanese rice wine)
1 1/2 tsp. mined ginger root
1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic

- In a medium saucepan, mix the cornstarch with sugar and soy sauce.  Stir in beef broth, sake , ginger and garlic.  Cook over medium heat until the mixture thickens slightly, stirring constantly.  Add meatballs and heat until the meatballs and warmed through.