We make meatballs in large batches and freeze them. Of course, you could use the pre-cooked meatballs in a variety of other recipes, but we never do. Ours go directly from the freezer and into our weekly batch of also-made-from-scratch pomodoro. The real trick is to allow the meatballs to cook in the sauce for hours (yes, plural) to allow them to fully absorb as much moisture as absolutely possible.
4 lbs. ground meat (a combination of ground beef and ground pork is optimal)
1 ½ cup fresh breadcrumbs, can be stale but not toasted
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried basil
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs and milk. Next, incorporate breadcrumbs, cheese and spices and then gently mix in ground meat. It is best to fold the ingredients together by hand resisting the urge to “squish” the mixture. Too much mixing makes the meatballs gluey and dense. The idea is to handle the meatballs as little as possible.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a spoon, (we use a cookie scoop which looks like a small ice cream scoop) gently form uniform-sized orbs and place about 2 inches apart on the lined baking sheet. You can use your hands to shape the meatballs, but remember the more you handle them the tougher they get.
Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until just cooked through. The baking time will depend on the size of your meatballs. To quote Dom, “They should look like the moon; round and gray.” While “gray” may sound unappetizing, you do not want to over bake the meatballs since they will cook even more in the final preparation.
Allow the meatballs to cool before using. This allows the juices to retreat and be absorbed by the breadcrumbs. Then you can use them or freeze them. They will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer, but ours rarely last that long.