Saturday, October 23, 2010

Meat Balls a'la Alton Brown, Part 1

My husband mentioned spaghetti and meatballs the other day.  I can't even remember the last time we had spaghetti.  Today he is out at sea, fishing, and I am making spaghetti and meatballs for dinner.  This is not a comment on his fishing skills.  I am having dreams of flounder for dinner tomorrow.  I was dreaming of black sea bass until he told me that black sea bass season doesn't start until November.  He said they are fishing for trigger fish, too.  I have never had trigger fish.  I am leery.

Anyway, meatballs.  This is the recipe; I got it off of the Food Network website.

Baked Meatballs (Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2005)

Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 20 meatballs, 4 to 5 servings


  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound ground lamb
  • 1/2 pound ground round
  • 5 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained thoroughly
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs, divided


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the pork, lamb, ground round, spinach, cheese, egg, basil, parsley, garlic powder, salt, red pepper flakes, and 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs. Using your hands, mix all ingredients until well incorporated. Use immediately or place in refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

Place the remaining 1/4 cup of bread crumbs into a small bowl. Using a scale, weigh meatballs into 1.5-ounce portions and place on a sheet pan. Using your hands, shape the meatballs into rounds, roll in the bread crumbs and place the meatballs in individual, miniature muffin tin cups. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and cooked through.
note: I didn't add the hyperlinks and I don't know where they will take you.

First gather the ingredients:

I know what you are thinking and no, the dull-green herb in the bowl is dried basil.  Just sayin'.

Now you have to mix the ingredients, and let it sit in the fridge for a while, up to 24 hours.  I'm giving it about 2 minutes in the fridge, if that long.  I really want to get to the weighing-the-meatballs part.  I admit to feeling somewhat smug in this recipe.  It wants you to weigh each meatball, even specifying this technique:  "using a scale."   How else would you weigh it, I wonder?  Anyway, I'm smug because I have a scale.  I have gotten pretty good at eyeballing food quantity since I've been weighing and logging everything I eat for the past 16 months, so I consider this to be The 20 Meatball Challenge.  I'll bet you anything I can eyeball 42 grams. 
First I chopped the spinach, even though nobody told me to.  It was just too big.  Before I chopped it, I squeezed the  moisture out in a clean towel.  Kind of a mess, picking the spinach off the towel.  I got most of it.

By the way, my blog  might make more sense if you know that my digital camera only holds 10 pictures at a time.  I know that I could buy a card to put in it with a bigger memory.  I like the way this is working out, though.  Since I download pictures after each step, I can write about it immediately before I forget something.  That way, you are getting a live, blow-by-blow report as I make the recipe.  It is like you are IN MY KITCHEN!  

Actually, it is like you are in my kitchen and not helping me one little bit.  Thanks.  CAN I GET YOU ANYTHING?

OK, put all the ingredients in a bowl: 

Looks like a monkey!

Mix everything together, using your hands.  I mixed it quite a bit to combine the three different meats.

Now for the fun part: weighing the meatballs! 

Hmph.  I only nailed one of them, 42 grams on the nose.  Not feeling so smug anymore.   Total of 22 meatballs, with the last one weighing only 37 grams.  Awesome on the two extra meatballs!

Weigh them, roll them into meatballs, roll them in breadcrumbs, then put in little muffin pan (a new purchase this morning).  I may start choosing recipes based on what new gadget I'll get to purchase in order to make it!  Glad I already had a food scale.

When they are all coated in breadcrumbs, put them in the oven.  Look how cute:

The recipe says to cook for 20 minutes or until brown and done.  20 minutes wasn't long enough.  I gave them another 5 minutes, and washed the dishes while I waited.

Cleanup Time = 3 minutes!

Five more minutes wasn't enough, they still weren't brown.  I gave them five minutes longer to get brown, and after that I turned on the broiler for about 30 seconds.

That's better.

Now they are waiting in the refrigerator.  I'm going to use a Trader Joe's marinara sauce for the spaghetti.  When Greg calls to say they're back from sea, I'll start boiling water for pasta and make a salad.  While he's taking a shower, I will put some garlic na'an in the oven and pasta in the pot.  I am looking forward to dinner time!



  1. yummmmmy! Those look really good! And no thanks, I don't need anything, but I would help you clean up.

  2. I could you another cup of coffee, decaf if you have it.

  3. Karyn, I so enjoy your writing style! If you could tell me where you keep your dishrag, I'll wipe down the counter for you. Thanks for the peek into your kitchen. :)

  4. Karyn, check out this guys blog when you have time. He is an amazing cook.

  5. Greg just called, he's on dry land and on his way home. NO FISH. :( He caught some but he never keeps them unless he's accumulated enough for a meal. He gives them away. Sigh.

  6. Correction on Greg's lack of fish: he caught some, but they were black sea bass and he had to throw them back. And his other fish were too small to keep and he had to throw them back, too. He had a blast, though. :)

  7. I never thought of making meatballs in a muffin pan. All these wasted meatball making day's. I'm a lady of no imagination. :)

  8. Dude! Who would have ever though, mini muffin pans! Love it! I try to play the "beat the scale" game too. :) I'm usually off by a couple of grams. It helps when I use a bowl I routinely use for prep and measuring.