Everyone loves Italian meatballs, but do you really trust that mystery ground beef from the market? Start with a beef chuck shoulder roast and grind your own. I’m serious! This way you know what’s in it, it tastes better, and it’s usually cheaper to boot. Too much trouble, you’re thinking? Not at all.
You do not need any fancy equipment to make your own ground beef. A food processor will do the trick nicely, from grinding the meat to mixing in the ingredients. Traditional Italian herbs and Parmesan cheese give that rich flavor. The meatballs are then baked in the oven before using in your favorite sauce with pasta, as an appetizer, or in sandwiches or soups.
Processor Italian Meatballs Recipe
1 pound beef chuck shoulder roast, cut into 1-inch cubes (see Notes)
1/2 small onion, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1/2 small green bell pepper (sweet capsicum), cut into 1/2-inch strips
1/3 cup herbed/seasoned breadcrumbs (see Notes)
1/3 cup milk or heavy cream
1 large egg
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (see Notes)
3 large cloves garlic, peeled and halved
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a shallow baking sheet with non-stick foil.
Place beef into a minimum-sized 5-cup (40 ounces) processor bowl fitted with the metal blade, and pulse until roughly chopped. You still want some chunks remaining.
Add onion, bell peppers, breadcrumbs, milk or cream, egg, garlic, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Pulse until well-mixed.
Scoop mixture by rounded tablespoons and roll by hand into meatballs about 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Place on prepared baking sheet and bake about 25 minutes. (Centers should read 165 F. with an instant-read meat thermometer.)
Meatballs may also be simmered in marinara sauce after baking or drop them into the simmering sauce right out of the processor.
Yield: about 24 meatballs
• This recipe was tested with the Ninja Kitchen System 1200, but any 5-cup (or larger) food processor will work fine.
• Place the roast in the freezer for about 30 minutes or just until ice crystals barely begin to form. The processing action naturally creates friction which can melt the fat molecules in the beef, so you want to begin with the meat as cold as possible. Take care not to over-process or you will end up with mush.
• Chuck is the best cut of meat to use, and less expensive. For the most tender meatballs, don’t be afraid to include some of the fat. It adds flavor and moisture. If you must cut back on the fat, use top round.
• If you don’t have herbed/seasoned breadcrumbs on hand, you can make your own by lightly brushing bread with olive oil, sprinkling with dried herbs, and baking at 400 F. about 15 minutes until lightly browned. Then process into crumbs. You can also process herbed croutons into crumbs for a substitution.
• I suggest avoiding the shelf-stable Parmesan cheese that comes in a can. Use the fresh-grated Parmesan from the dairy case or grate your own.
Processor Italian Meatballs Recipe Photo ©2019 Peggy Filippone