Easy Baked Meatballs
“Cooking is love made visible”
Although the origins of this saying are unknown, the sentiment is so true. There’s great joy in cooking for those you love, especially your significant other. Whether it’s a table for two or a buffet for family and friends, sharing food is love.
With Valentine’s Day upon us, the idea of dining out at a candlelit table is romantic for sure. But making a special meal together can be just as lovey-dovey. And it requires no ironing or warming up the car. While cooking, my husband and I listen to fun music, drink wine, and wear our favorite PJs. It’s a win all around. It is love.
Romance and Italian food go hand in hand. So I think you, your special other, family, and friends will enjoy these meatballs for hearts day. They are easy to make but pack the taste and texture of an upscale eatery. These little orbs sing “I love you” with every bite.
I am drawn to this recipe because it doesn’t require stovetop frying. Instead, the meatballs are baked in a shallow bath of broth which imparts a steaming effect. They come out of the oven with a toothsome crust, while moist and tender on the inside.
Most often, I drop these in a favorite marinara. They continue to simmer while I prepare the pasta. But they also get rave reviews as an appetizer.
Let’s get started, shall we?
- Preheat your oven to 450° and move a rack to the middle position. Lightly grease the largest rimmed sheet pan you own.
- Mix the following in a large bowl: 1 cup low sodium beef broth from a 14.5 oz can, reserving the rest for later; 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs or panko; ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese; ½ cup whole milk; ⅓ cup finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley; 3 large eggs; 2 cloves garlic, minced; 1 Tbl finely grated onion, optional; 1 Tbl Worcestershire sauce; 1.5 Tbl dried oregano; 2 tsp dried basil; 1 tsp cayenne pepper; 1 Tbl kosher salt; 1 Tbl cracked black pepper; pinch of ground nutmeg.
- Gently add the following until well combined: 2 pounds ground meatloaf mix.
- Form 2-inch meatballs and evenly space them in your pan. Pour the rest of the broth around the meatballs. Then bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the meatballs are browned to your liking. Serve hot with your favorite sauce and pasta.
To serve as an appetizer: When the meatballs come out of the oven, preheat your broiler and move the rack to within a couple inches. Line the bottom of a ceramic or glass dish with some of your favorite red sauce. A cup or so will do; you don’t want it very deep. Place the meatballs on top of the sauce shoulder to shoulder, keeping the tops dry.
Cover the meatballs with thin slices of sharp provolone from your deli, about a half-pound or so. The slices can overlap, just make sure each meatball is covered, lightly blanketing the whole dish.
Broil until bubbly and starting to brown. I love some charred spots. Serve with a metal spoon so guests can “cut” thru the melty cheese.
• Meatloaf mix is generally 50 percent beef, 25 percent veal, and 25 percent pork. If I can find it, I love making these with all ground veal, which makes them exceptionally tender while imparting a light yet beefy flavor. If you’re not a fan of veal in any amount, feel free to substitute 90 percent lean beef (ground sirloin).
• The cayenne pepper is just enough to bring out the other flavors, while keeping the end result from being too spicy. Feel free to add more to suit your taste. Personally, I’d rather add a few red pepper flakes to the marinara.
• If you go the appetizer route, be sure to limit how many of these you serve. I can guarantee everyone will want to make them the main course! I use a white tart dish. The concentric circles make for a fun presentation. ▼
Ed and his husband Jerry split their time between homes near Harrisburg Pennsylvania and Bethany Beach. Ed builds websites to pay the bills but loves to cook, garden, hike, and dote on their dog Atticus. Recipe requests and feedback welcome: email@example.com.