In my pre-paleo days, I could whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookie batter in less than five minutes. I had the recipe memorized. Through years of practice and repetition, I discovered every efficiency of movement and measurement.
What slowed me down was scooping the cookies into neat rows on the tray. That always took a while.
I find the same situation with making meatballs. The making of the meat is speedy but forming the balls takes more time that I like. I’m usually uninterested in the project after the first dozen spheres.
One way around the cookie scooping slowdown was to make the batter into cookie bars. I just dumped the whole batch of dough into a greased 9×12 cake pan. Voila! It was time to pop the pan in the oven.
As I was rolling meatball after meatball for this dish, I pondered if I could have applied the same cookie bar trick to making meatballs. What if instead of rolling each meatball into a neat one-inch sphere, I flattened the meat into a slab on the cutting board and sliced it at one inch intervals in both directions?
I would have meat cubes, instead of meat balls – but would that matter? Once I browned them up, they may even look a little round. Certainly the flavor wouldn’t change. It would definitely be faster — and would be kind of fun. Next time, I am totally trying that.
Meatballs and Tomato Sauce
For the meatballs –
Ground pork (or, for even more flavor, use pork sausage), 1 pound
Ground beef, 1 pound
Cumin, 2 teaspoons
Paprika, 2 tablespoons
Salt and pepper
For the sauce –
Onion, ½ (about 1 cup chopped)
Garlic, 3-4 cloves
Basil, 1 tablespoon
Paprika, 1 tablespoon
Oregano, ½ tablespoon
Chopped tomatoes, 28-oz can
Water, 1/2 cup
Tomato paste, 2 tablespoons
Salt and pepper
Optional: Sun-dried tomatoes
- In large bowl, add all ingredients for meatballs. Use your hands to mush together until ingredients are blended well. Form into meatballs about 1 inch in diameter, ending up with about 60 meatballs.
- Brown meatballs over medium heat in large pan for 5-7 minutes. (You may need to do this in two batches.) Remove from pan with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat in the pan. Set aside meatballs and cover.
- Add onions to the fat in the pan. Sauté until soft, about 6 minutes.
- Add garlic, basil, oregano and paprika. Saute for another minute, stirring frequently.
- Add canned tomatoes, water and tomato paste. If you want to add some sun-dried tomatoes, add them now too. Stir well.
- Gently spoon meatballs back into the sauce.
- Let cook over low heat for 45 minutes or so.