Hearty Italian Meatballs

I’ve yet to make Italian meatballs using all three of the common ground meats: pork, beef and veal. I decided to try it out using this recipe I found on Betty Crocker’s site since it also shared instructions for a simple sauce as well.

Instead of using just pork and beef as listed, I used a package of meatball mix that I picked up at the grocery store, which contained the “tri-ground” meats. The recipe, created by Angie McGowan, called for remaining ingredients that I already had in my pantry and refrigerator. Although not required, I threw a 1/4 cup of grated parmigiano reggiano into the mixture.

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I was glad that these meatballs were baked rather than fried…a little less work, a bit healthier, and it allowed me to quickly clean up and start on the sauce. For the marinara, I didn’t have canned whole tomatoes with basil so I just used a can of crushed tomatoes and tore some fresh basil into the pot.

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The night I made this, I served it with spaghetti and a side of garlic toast. We placed the leftovers in individual quart-size freezer bags (about five meatballs with sauce per bag). This worked out perfectly for when TJ wanted to reheat just a few for sandwiches.

I’m not sure which version I liked better; these or the turkey meatballs I tried several months ago? TJ liked the hearty Italian meatballs more…but I think that’s because he just winces whenever I try to substitute turkey for anything, lol. I think I may have to find a few impartial friends to do a true taste-test one day.

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Ingredients

Meatballs:
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
1 lb bulk Italian pork sausage
1 lb ground beef
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 egg
1/2 cup Progresso® Italian style bread crumbs
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Marinara Sauce:
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 can (28 oz) Muir Glen® organic whole tomatoes with basil, undrained
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt

Preparation

1 Heat oven to 350°F. In small skillet, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium heat. Cook 1 cup onion in oil, stirring occasionally, until tender. Remove from heat; cool.

2 In large bowl, mix onion and remaining meatball ingredients just until combined. Shape into tablespoon-size meatballs. Place in ungreased 15x10x1-inch pan.

3 Bake uncovered 15 to 20 minutes or until no longer pink in center and meat thermometer inserted in center of meatball reads 160°F.

4 Meanwhile, in Dutch oven or large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Cook 1/2 cup onion in oil, stirring occasionally, until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 to 2 minutes longer. Add tomatoes, tomato paste and salt. Cook 5 minutes, breaking up tomatoes.

6 Add cooked meatballs to sauce. Simmer 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened.

Here is the original recipe: http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/hearty-italian-meatballs/7c35635f-e357-46a2-a911-4c478e9317ba

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