People ask Andrew if being married to a food blogger means he eats wonderful meals all the time. His response? “My life is a series of weeks. Sometimes you eat ice cream for seven days. Sometimes it’s all soup.” In my defense, there was salad in the fridge at all times.
Even when I wasn’t experimenting with desserts, Andrew frequently munched on store brand frozen meatballs he zapped to the consistency of rubber in the microwave. They were more convenient than tasty, but my real issue with these rounds of processed protein went beyond their chemical-laced aftertaste. They eroded my faith in my culinary skills. There I was, a food writer, busy making from-scratch granola, yogurt, ice cream and chicken stock, and my husband was snacking on industrial convenience food. Oh, the shame.
Despite my protests, Andrew regularly returned from grocery shopping with a package or two of what he dubbed The Meatballs of Shame. He hid them in the basement freezer, munched on them when I wasn’t home or slid them under paperwork in his office so I couldn’t see him snacking.
The solution? I now make and freeze bite-sized meatballs to replace his snack of choice. Andrew admits they taste better than the pre-packaged version. The Meatballs of Shame remain at the grocery store for others, but in our house? We have tiny, oven-baked snacks based on a recipe from chef Michael Smith.
Makes up to 48 bite-sized meatballs
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 pound extra lean ground beef
- 1 onion, grated
- 2 garlic cloves, grated using a microplane
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/4 cup fresh oregano, finely
- 1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg, freshly ground
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- In a small bowl, mix breadcrumbs with milk. Set aside so crumbs can fully absorb milk.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, using your hands, mix the ground beef, onion, garlic, egg yolk and Parmesan.
- Add the breadcrumb mixture and oregano, mixing again.
- Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and mix well.
- Form mixture into rounds about the size of ping-pong balls, and place on a parchment or silicon lined baking sheet with a rim. Feel free to make the meatballs bigger or smaller than this, but just be consistent so they bake evenly.
- Bake the meatballs for 15 to 25 minutes (timing depends on how big you make the meatballs).
- You can add these to spaghetti sauce right away or allow them to cool and then freeze for later.
- Frozen meatballs should keep for up to 3 months.