Meatballs are not just for spaghetti, as you well know. These mini-meatballs may be served as an entree over rice, noodles, couscous, biscuits, or mashed potatoes. They also work well as a cocktail appetizer for your next party. Use any leftovers as a basis for a quick soup or stew, with any variety of your favorite vegetables. Three ways to go, and all of them yummy!
The flavor of these meatballs is punched up with the additon of bulk breakfast sausage and kept moist by incorporating the mushroom stems into the meatball mix. The resulting chunky mushroom gravy is rich and savory. It’s a flavor combination that can’t be beat.
I’m constantly updating and revising my favorite recipes. This is an update to an original recipe found in my cookbook. I think you’ll enjoy this version even more.
Mini Meatballs Recipe
1 pound baby portobello or brown mushrooms
1 pound bulk breakfast pork sausage (see Notes)
1 pound ground beef (preferably ground chuck for its superior flavor)
1/2 large sweet onion, finely chopped, divided use
6 medium cloves of garlic, pressed, divided use
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed between your palms to release flavor
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspon dried thyme
2 teaspoons, plus 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (not table salt) or to taste, divided use (see Notes)
10 grinds fresh black pepper, or to taste
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs or seasoned panko
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 large eggs, lightly beaten with a fork
1/2 cup heavy cream, divided use
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups beef stock (made from bouillon cubes or powder is fine), divided use
1 cup chicken stock (made from bouillon cubes or powder is fine)
1/4 cup red wine (drinkable, not cooking wine)
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Brush the mushrooms clean with a mushroom brush. Trim a thin sliver from the stem ends. Remove the stems and reserve. Cut the mushrooms into 1/2-inch slices and set aside. Finely chop the mushroom stems into pieces about 1/4-inch in size. (I use an Alaskan ulu knife to make quick work of this task, but pulsing in a food processor also works well.)
In a large bowl, combine the chopped mushroom stems, bulk sausage, ground beef, 1/2 of the onions, 1/2 of the pressed garlic, parsley, oregano, sage, thyme, 2 teaspoons of the salt (or to taste), pepper, bread crumbs or panko, Worcestershire sauce, beaten eggs, and 1/4 cup of the heavy cream. Mix thoroughly with a light hand. Do not over-knead the mixture. Form into small meatballs about the diameter of a quarter.
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. When hot, coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil. Brown the meatballs in batches, taking care not to crowd them, and remove to a bowl as they are browned.
When all of the meatballs have been browned, add the butter to the pan drippings, along with the remaining onions, garlic, and sliced mushrooms. Stir to coat with the drippings. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, or to taste. Saute until the mushrooms release all of their liquid. Add the wine and continue to saute until the liquid has reduced by half. Sprinkle with the flour. Stir and cook for 1 minute to cook out the rawness of the flour. Slowly stir in 1 cup of the beef broth until incorporated and liquid begins to thicken. Add remaining beef stock and chicken stock, while continuing to stir, and bring to a simmer. The gravy should thicken up.
Return the browned meatballs to the gravy, along with any accumulated juices. Simmer on very low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cooked through. Stir in remaining 1/4 cup heavy cream and bring back to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in chopped chives.
Serve over cooked white rice, wide egg noodles, mashed potatoes, couscous, or biscuits for an entree. When serving as an appetizer, keep the mini meatballs warm in a crockpot or slow cooker.
Yield: about 8 servings
• Bulk breakfast sausage is usually found near the bacon products in most markets. It is usually packaged in a plastic-covered “roll.” Jimmy Dean® is a popular brand, but any brand will do. There are many different flavors of bulk breakfast sausage, including plain (not to be confused with unseasoned ground pork), spicy, sage, Italian, and maple. I find the maple to be a bit too sweet for this application, but choose what you prefer.
• The amount of salt needed will depend upon how highly seasoned your bread crumbs and/or panko are, as well as how strong your stock is. Keep this in mind as you measure the salt.
Adapted From: “About.com Guide to Home Cooking: 225 Family Friendly Recipes with a Dash of Sophistication” by Peggy Trowbridge Filippone (Adams Media)
Reprinted with express permission.
Enjoy flavorful mini meatballs as an entree with seasoned rice and a salad.