Monday, February 19, 2018

Baked Meatball Parmegiana


Comfort food season is almost over, so you better take advantage while you've got the chance. This recipe gives some serious vavoom to an otherwise fairly nothing-special-Tuesday-night meal. While still keeping it simple. Because I think we all love comfort food if, you know, your grandma makes it. But then when you have to hang out for four hours breading the meat or dicing 800 potatoes or shredding two pounds of cheese and simmer down the sauce until it's a nice balsamic glaze and then get everything onto the table at just the right moment so nothing gets cold--well then fried eggs start to sound a lot better. And while there's nothing wrong with fried eggs, how about some hearty comfort food that's a little easier to pull together.

Baked meatballs are a new and glorious thing for me in general. In the past, I've always stood by the oven, rolling meatballs around in a skillet while the fat spit everywhere and the balls got too brown on the outside while still being a bit too pink on the inside. No more. Now that baked meatballs and I have been introduced, there's no turning back. They're so much easier and neater, juicier, and more evenly cooked.

This dish builds on the beauty of baked meatballs and adds to it. All you've got to do is roll meat in to balls. It takes about 15 minutes and then you're "work" is done. You do need 45 minutes to for these to cook, so plan for that. Otherwise, a pot of pasta later, you're done.

Baked Meatball Parmigiana
adapted from Hugs and Cookies
Serves 4
prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Cost: $6.50 (even with a box of pasta, this comes up to less than $2.00/serving)
beef: 3.00, bread: .05, Parm cheese: .75, eggs: .20, tomato sauce: 1.50, mozzarella: 1.00

1 lb ground beef
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 C bread crumbs (I just used one slice and put it in my little blender)
3/4 C Parmesan cheese (I used the shredded, but in this recipe the powdery stuff might work too)
2 eggs
salt to taste
36 oz. your choice tomato sauce
1-2 C mozzarella
some pasta to serve it on if you're too proud to just spoon it out of the dish and eat it

Preheat oven to 400.

Combine ground beef, garlic, bread crumbs, Parmesan, eggs, and salt. I squish it together with my hands like a boss (naturally). Then roll it into meatballs. Larger meatballs will have a slightly longer cook time than smaller ones. We made 14 or 15. [Note: That means if you really want to speed up this cook time, call in some little helpers and roll you some tiny meatballs.]

Put a tiny bit of olive oil on the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Then add your meatballs.

Cook for 15 to 20 minutes.

Then add sauce, stir around the meatballs to coat and cook for another 15 minutes or so. (Note: Around this point, you want to start boiling your pasta water, so your pasta will be ready in time.)

Then throw on the cheese and cook for another 10 minutes or so. Cut one open to check for meatballs doneness and, uh, while you're at it you better taste it to make sure it's okay and stuff.

Serve over pasta or with bread.

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