So I am a product of the 80s. I loved Punky Brewster and Muppet Babies and ate sixlets and was jealous of swatch watch owners. A food that I always associate with the 80s is ground beef, don't ask why. We ate it a lot growing up. It is cheap and since we lived on a budget it was the centerpiece of many meals. We ate tacos, lasagna, burgers, spaghetti...anything mom could think up to use up the glorious ground round. One meat product we didn't eat much and never had homemade, that I can remember are meatballs. I remember being terrified of them for years thinking that the inside would come alive once it entered my body, sort of like a watermelon seed would start to sprout if accidentally swallowed. The few meatballs I do remember were dry, tasteless and would have been great golf ball substitutes if needed. When the salesman and I got married we decided to throw our first real dinner party and invite all of our friends to show off our tiny apartment. We were so proud of our non ventilated bathroom and creepy dropped ceiling floor in one room and the fact that there were five other apartments in this one house didn't bother us a bit at the time. Since we were dirt poor we decided to make a huge bowl of spaghetti and meatballs thinking it would stretch as much as we needed it to if we had anyone show up unannounced. It was my first attempt at making meatballs. I knew I didn't have the courage yet to stick my hands in the raw meat and mix it all together so I decided I would add all of the ingredients, let the salesman mix and roll and I would take the credit for everything. And I did. And they were awesome. And that dinner party was one of the most memorable nights of our married life. Since then I have rolled hundreds of meatballs and that dish remains one of my favorite meals to cook for any guest.
Meatballs for Spaghetti - Serves 6-8 hungry hippos
1.5 lbs ground beef (I like to mix ground round for the fat and sirloin for the taste. You can also do sirloin and half Italian sausage if you like)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup dry Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup water
2 eggs, beaten
3 Tbs fresh chopped herbs (Combo if possible of Rosemary, Basil and flat leaf Italian Parsley) if you don't have fresh you can throw in 2 tsp dried but fresh is always best
1/2 of a med. onion grated (yes, with a cheese grater- and make sure all of the juice gets in the bowl)
2 garlic cloves finely diced
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
If you are going to be making a marinara sauce you will want to get your base going first then you can add in the meatballs and some of the pan drippings (that is all of the toasty bits that stuck to the bottom of the pan, but not all of the grease) to the pan to give it a good flavor. If you are not making a scratch sauce you can drain some of the fatty oil from your pan, pour in a jarred sauce then add all of your meatballs and let it all simmer together for 30 minutes and it will taste homemade (although I do highly recommend a scratch sauce).
These meatballs are good with spaghetti, on a toasted roll with melted provolone, alone with a toothpick...any way you want to eat them.