Easy, Cheesy Weeknight Meatballs
Updated: Jan 26, 2020
Whenever ground beef, ground turkey or ground chicken are on sale, I purchase at least a pound or two and bake up a bunch of make-ahead meatballs.
I am a big fan of FAT in my meats, for optimal flavor, moisture and texture. When making beef meatballs, I prefer 80/20 ground beef. For turkey meatballs, my preference is ground dark meat turkey. If you opt to use ground white meat poultry, or 90/10 ground beef (if it's on sale, that's what we use!), I recommend adding 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to the meatball mixture or increasing the amount of cheese, to prevent dryness. Another tasty way to add some fat to white or lean ground meats is to mix in a bit of ground pork.
While I enjoy the flavor that fattiness lends to meatballs, I find that baking meatballs directly in their fat yields meatballs that are greasy and soggy on the bottom. My solutions is to bake meatballs atop a greased wire rack. This allows the fat that renders from the meatballs to collect in the bottom of the pan. The end result is meatballs that are uniformly browned on all sides.
Meatballs are very forgiving, and can be adapted to whatever ingredients you have on hand. For the recipe below, I used gruyere cheese. However, I often use cheddar, manchego, mozzarella, blue cheese, gorgonzola, ricotta or parmesan cheese instead. I have also replaced basil with cilantro (best with Cheddar or manchego cheese), or fresh oregano (best with ground turkey), and had wonderful results. Dried herbs will work, too. But, whenever possible, I prefer to use fresh herbs to add green color to an otherwise rather dull-colored entree.
Since garlic and onions are not suitable for low FODMAP cooking, I replace those flavors with fresh chives. I am fortunate that my grocer stocks garlic chives, which, in my opinion, provide comparable flavor to garlic. But, regular chives will suffice. For those of you who are not familiar with garlic chives, below is an image. Garlic chives resemble traditional chives, but have flatter leaves, a lighter green color and the smell is much more pungent:
EASY CHEESY MEATBALLS RECIPE
MAKES: 8 large meatballs (3 servings for my family)
PREP TIME: 5 minutes
COOKING TIME: 30 minutes
- 1 lb 80/20 ground beef (or ground dark meat turkey)
- 1/3 cup shredded cheese of your choice (I used gruyere)
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs
- 5 garlic "Asian" chives, finely diced (regular chives are fine)
- 3 large fresh basil leaves, chopped finely
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
- Non-stick cooking spray
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- In a large bowl, combine ground meat, cheese, egg, breadcrumbs, diced chives, basil, salt and pepper.
- Use your hands to combine the mixture. Mix just until ingredients are combined.
- Cover a baking sheet pan with a wire rack. Spray the wire rack with nonstick cooking spray.
- Use a 1/4 cup ice cream scoop to gather meatball mixture. Scoop the mixture into your hands and roll into a ball. Place on wire rack.
- Once all meatballs are formed, bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove and let cool on wire rack for 10 minutes before serving.
- Meatballs can be made ahead and reheated in microwave.
- Serve alone or with garlic and onion free marinara sauce (I highly recommend Rao's Sensitive Formula Marinara sauce, which can be purchased on Amazon).