Mouthwatering Hallucination Meatballs

Or at least you’ll think you’re hallucinating.

No kidding, this really is the most wonderful meatball recipe I’ve ever tasted.  When you read the ingredients — you may feel your eyebrows rising in disbelief — but don’t let that stop you.  They really are meatballs to write home about….  Be sure to check out the Holiday Ham-Meatballs variation for parties and holiday buffet service — and lots of other ideas at the bottom of the page.

Makes about 20-22 meatballs, 1 oz (2T) each
Enough for 4 people to have 5 meatballs each,
or 6 people to 3 1/2 each

2 slices of white bread (no crusts) torn into bits (about 2/3 c)
1/2 c buttermilk
1/3 c fresh grated (not shredded) Parmesan cheese (DO NOT use the stuff in the green can — it won’t work)
2 T finely chopped fresh parsley
1 T finely chopped fresh basil
1 egg yolk
1/2 lb ground sirloin
1/2 lb ground pork
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/4 t salt
1/2 t freshly ground (fine grind) black pepper

1 1/2 c (or more if needed, depending on the pan you use to fry these) vegetable oil

  • combine all ingredients except bread and buttermilk with a fork until well blended
  • soak bread in buttermilk for about 15 minutes –until it falls apart and makes a slurry
  • gently combine slurry with meat mixture until thoroughly mixed
  • using a 2T scoop to measure, form into 1 oz (about 1″ diameter) meatballs, being careful shape them gently.
  • using a 10-12″ flat-bottomed skillet, heat 1/4″-1/2″ of oil on med.  Test to see if the oil is hot by placing a tiny bit of the meatball mixture on the edge of a spoon.  When this is touched into the oil, it should sizzle.
  • arrange all the meatballs in the bottom of the pan — allowing them to brown thoroughly on each side, until they are uniformly browned all over. This will take constant attention so they don’t burn or overcook.
  • drain on paper towels

Serve with a hearty red sauce, alfredo, or with pasta tossed in olive oil, pesto, and additional Parmesan.

This same recipe can be used to make meatballs of almost any ground meat, so long as the ratios to other ingredients remain the same.

You can leave out the basil and substitute Asiago or dry Monterey Jack cheese to make the meatballs for strogonoff, or substitute a hard Jarlsberg cheese to serve in a rich brown onion gravy over egg noodles.

😀 For a really yummy holiday-table twist, leave out the garlic and basil (using or not using the cheese is completely up to you — I really like the Asiago in this version); use 1/2 lb honey baked ham, and 1/2 lb ground pork, with parsley and 1/4 t ground clove.  When meatballs are cooked, put them in a crock pot with a hot glaze made of 1 c pure maple syrup + 1/2 c hickory smoked BBQ sauce + 1/2 c cider vinegar + 12 whole cloves; and 1 lb each steamed sliced carrots and pearl onions.  (make a double recipe of these hammy meatballs for a holiday buffet for a big family.)

Here’s the bottom line: It’s the buttermilk (which sounds like a really alien ingredient) /whitebread slurry AND the light touch in forming the meatballs that makes these so tender and special.  The buttermilk is the secret ingredient that causes the tenderness, and the light touch is what keeps you, the cook, from taking it away again.  Remember that — and it will work every time.

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