This meatball recipe is the perfect addition for pasta night. It also makes a fantastic meatball sub sandwich. Using two meats gives the meatballs a great depth of flavor the whole family will appreciate.
It’s my belief that on your birthday you should get to do whatever you want. Well, within reason of course. I’m sure I could think of a few things that would fall out of the realm of reason, but I won’t go into that.
Reasonable for my birthday this year was a good dinner, cooked at home and completely from scratch.
That didn’t seem like to much to ask. Since I was home alone on my birthday, my other half was at work, it fell to me to make this meal. I thought all morning about what I wanted versus what we have. Going to the store was not on my list of birthday to-dos.
After careful consideration I decided on pasta and meatballs. This is something I could create completely from scratch with ingredients I already had. Meals are so much better when you can stand back and say “I made all of this.” Well, in my mind it is. If you’re reading this, I’m taking a guess that you like a good made from scratch meal too.
Good pasta takes some time to make, so I’m glad I decided to start it early. In the interest of not making you read all day about how I made this complete meal, I’m going to split up the pasta and meatball recipes. You can find the pasta recipe here:
Homemade Pasta Blog Post (link to come when I finish that post)
A Meatball Recipe That Uses What You Have
Our freezer is pretty well stocked with venison right now curtesy of a mule deer buck my husband brought home the week before. It sure is nice having a freezer stocked with meat! I encourage you to give it a try with whatever meat your family likes to eat regularly.
We were completely out of ground beef, but with lots of ground venison it was an easy choice to use that instead. Venison will taste amazing as meatballs so I can’t say I was disappointed.
If you don’t have venison, use ground beef. It’s a lot easier to find at your local store, too.
When I make this meatball recipe I usually use half ground beef and half Italian sausage. I have lots of Italian sausage as well, so half ground venison and half sausage was the winning combination. (It definitely was a win in my book!)
If you’ve never tried ground venison and can get your hands on some, I highly recommend you give it a try.
How To Make This Meatball Recipe
Add your chosen ground meats into a mixing bowl. For these meatballs I used 1 1/2 lbs ground venison and 1 lbs sausage. Not quite half and half, but that’s the way the venison was packaged. It seems kind of silly to set a half pound of meat to the side just so I could get an exact half and half split.
The spices come in next. I added garlic powder, parsley, pepper, Italian seasoning, salt, and red pepper flakes to these meatballs. Since I planned on serving them with marinara sauce I went for a more Italian style seasoning mix. You could change it up and add cajun style spices, or Indian style spices to serve it with and an Indian curry. That sounds tasty, I’m going to have to give that a try now.
To this mix throw in an egg. The egg is the binder that’s going to hold everything together and keep your meatballs from falling apart. Definitely don’t skip the egg.
Use your hands to mix everything together. Raw meat has a bit of a slimy texture that I’m not a big fan of, so I like to use some latex gloves when mixing. Bare or gloved, just make sure you thoroughly mix everything together.
Before you start shaping the meatballs, ready your skillet. I prefer using a cast iron skillet for just about everything, but especially for meals like this. The skillet is going to end up in the oven so it’s important you use a skillet that can withstand the heat of an oven.
Start The Meatballs In A Skillet
Put about a tablespoon or two of oil or fat into the skillet and start heating it up. I used lard that I rendered myself, but olive oil, avocado oil, or even a refined coconut oil would work too. Just don’t use vegetable oil. In fact, skip over that completely at the store and pretend it doesn’t exist.
While the oil or fat of your choice is heating up, shape your meatballs. Make them as big or as small as you’d like, just make sure they are roughly the same size. Keeping them the same size will ensure they cook evenly.
You don’t want to serve uneven meatballs to find out the smaller ones are overcooked and the larger ones aren’t cooked enough! I can feel the disappointment from here!
When the fat is hot and the balls are shaped, add the balls to the skillet. The goal here is just to brown the outside of them, not to cook them all the way through. You want to see a nice texture that is dark brown. This is what gives a nice, deep flavor to the meat.
If you just lightly brown so it looks cooked but isn’t developing that deep brown crust, you may end up disappointed in them. At the very least, you won’t be getting the full flavor that you could be getting.
Finish The Cooking In The Oven
While the meatballs are browning, preheat your oven to 350℉, 176℃. As soon as your meatballs are browned on all sides and the oven is preheated, take the whole skillet and pop it in the oven. Set the timer for 20 minutes, but start checking for doneness after 15 if your oven runs on the hotter side.
The meatballs are done when the temperature reaches 160℉, 71℃. You can use a meat thermometer to check if you want to, but another way to test for doneness is to lightly press on the meat. If it’s firm, it’s done and if it’s still soft, or a bit squishy when you press on it, it needs more time.
If you’re still unsure, go ahead and take one of the meatballs and cut it open to check. You’ll be able to see if it’s still pink in the middle or not.
That’s all there is to these meatballs! Tonight I’m serving them up with homemade pasta and marinara sauce I canned using tomatoes from my garden. But, these would be great as meatball subs, in alfredo sauce, or however you decide you want to serve them.
This meal was topped with some homemade cheese as well. I’m super proud to have made every bit of this meal from scratch. You can do that too! Use what you have meals are so much fun, and can often lead to discovering new and fun ways to eat what’s in your freezer or pantry.
Enjoy this however you like, and let me know in the comments how you like to serve them!
Check out more recipes:
- 1 pound Italian sausage
- 1 pound ground venison (or ground beef)
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 Tbs garlic powder
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 Tbs Italian seasoning
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- Dash of red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1-2 Tbs oil or lard
- Preheat oven to 350℉, 176℃
- Mix meat, seasonings and egg in a bowl
- Heat oil/fat over medium heat in an oven safe skillet
- Shape meat into meatballs, making sure they are the same size
- When oil/fat is hot, add meatballs to the skillet and brown on all sides
- Place skillet inside oven and cook for 20 minutes
- Once done, serve as desired