Simple meat balls
This recipe requires a frying pan and oil or fat. This can get VERY HOT. Please take care.
This recipe also uses raw meat (minced steak or ground beef). Please ensure you wash your hands thoroughly, straight after touching raw meat.
You will need 1 pint of boiling water to dissolve your stock cube. This is VERY HOT.
You won't get any cordon bleu recipes fed to you in my house. But what you will get are simple, healthy, nutritious meals that will feed you and your family or friends economically and in these days of financial troubles, economy is a very important word.
One of the important things to learn about these simple meals is that I have learned them by trial and error and they have been practised on three children, one husband, three grandchildren and quite a lot of other family, friends and visitors. If you are just starting out learning how to provide meals for yourself or your family, these simple meals will help you stretch out your budget and also show you how to manage all the different parts of the meal without something being burnt, while another thing boils over and the rest is uncooked!
Cooking OIL or FAT?
Since I first wrote this recipe, my daughter and her husband have decided to use solid fats only for cooking. These are the fats that are solid at room temperature, instead of vegetable oil or olive oil or sunflower oil or anything similar, which is liquid at room temperature (well it is in our temperate climate anyway). I have added a bit in about using solid fats, if you want to, at all relevant points in the recipe. It is your choice whether you use oil or fat for cooking. My preferences are to use olive oil for salads and these days, I use butter or goose dripping for this type of meal, whereas I used to use olive oil or sunflower oil. The taste is not a lot different whichever you use (though if you use coconut oil, there will definitely be a taste difference).
Onion and Garlic
Ingredients to feed 4 adults with good appetites
1 onion, preferably medium size or half a large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves finely chopped (optional if you don't like garlic, or add a little more if you love it)
1 teaspoon of dried mixed herbs
Salt and pepper to taste
1.5 lbs of minced steak or finely minced ground beef.
1 beef stock cube
1 pint of boiling water to dissolve the stock cube (TAKE CARE)
Gravy powder for thickening the gravy at the end
You may need a few porridge oats OR a little flour OR a few breadcrumbs to hold the mixture together if it is too "wet".
A little oil for frying - about 2 tablespoons
EDIT: Since writing this first, my daughter has decided that she and her husband will not be using vegetable oils in their food any more, so I now use EITHER a knob of butter OR a knob of goose fat, which are the two of the three solid fats I have in the house (coconut oil is the third, but i don't use that for this recipe).
Basin for mixing
Knife for chopping
Nice to have but not essential
Food processor to chop your onions and garlic.
Chop the Onions and garlic together
Add your dried herbs
Add the minced steak to the onions and herbs
Method for making meat balls
1. Finely chop the onion and garlic together and put it in a bowl. You can use a food processor or just use a knife and chop it all up finely.
2. Add the teaspoonful of dried mixed herbs and salt and pepper. I just use any dried herbs available in the cupboard. Use whichever dried herbs you have available or omit these if you don't like them or don't have any.
3. Add the minced steak (ground beef) and mix everything together. I put all the ingredients in a large stainless steel mixing bowl, you can see the reflections in the side of the bowl!
Get your frying pan ready
Get the frying pan ready
Put the frying pan on the stove, add the cooking oil or the knob of solid fat (such as butter, goose dripping, beef dripping or lard) and set it to heat gently.
Start to make your meat balls
When you have mixed all the ingredients together, you may find they are too "wet" to hold together as meatballs. You will know if this is happening if you try to squeeze the meat and onion mixture together into a "ball" and it keeps falling apart on you. (You can give up making meatballs at this stage and just tip the whole lot into the frying pan to make a Bolognese type meat sauce, but don't give up just yet, if you want to make meatballs.)
If the mixture is too "wet" (probably a little too much onion, which has added a lot of juice), you can add something to balance the moisture content, without affecting the flavour. You can use a handful of porridge oats, OR a little flour, OR a handful of breadcrumbs. I wouldn't suggest adding too much of these because they can reduce the flavour but if you really need to economise and feed more people than suggested - a few more oats or breadcrumbs will help make these meatballs more substantial. Warning: if you add too many, the mixture will become too dry and won't hold together. If this happens, add a bit of beaten egg to moisten the contents.
Meatballs in the frying pan
Roll into meat balls
Form the mixture into balls. You can make these large or small, as you wish. I prefer to make smaller meatballs for the following reasons:
- Smaller meatballs cook more quickly, which means you are less likely to find uncooked pink meat in the middle, while the outside is burnt!
- People seem to feel they have got more when they have 2 or 3 smaller meatballs on their plate, rather than 1 larger one.
- You can divide out the meatballs according to appetite or whether you have small children to feed.
I tend to make 12 meatballs with this amount of mixture. That gives 4 adults 3 meatballs each. I find that 2 meatballs are usually enough for a child.
Put the meatballs in the frying pan and cook the first side until the meat is lightly browned (ok, sometimes my meat gets darkly browned. This won't hurt as long as it's not too dark). This will just take a couple of minutes. Turn the meatballs so the second side gets lightly browned too.
Meatballs - second side getting browned
Meatballs lightly browned
Stock mixture added for final cooking
Cooking the meatballs
The meat balls are NOT fully cooked at this stage and need more cooking but you have a choice of how to cook them.
In the oven - my preferred method
Lift the browned meatballs out of the frying pan and put them in an oven-proof dish, add a pint of water with a stock cube dissolved in it, cover the dish (I used foil because the lid broke a long time ago) and cook in the oven at gas mark 4 for about 1 hour.
In the frying pan (good alternative)
Drain off the fat from the frying pan (careful, it will be hot) and gently add the water with the stock cube dissolved in it. Do this VERY CAREFULLY. If the pan has been too hot, adding water may cause some to splash out or steam to form. Put a lid on the frying pan (or a large heat-proof plate) and let the meat balls cook over a low heat for about an hour.
Ready to Eat meat balls
Meat Balls ready to eat
The meatballs should be ready to eat but it is best to test one by cutting it in half to ensure that there is no pink meat inside. If there is, the meatballs are not fully cooked - return them to the oven or frying pan and cook them a little longer.
Make up your gravy thickener by following the directions on the packet, (e.g., by mixing about 3 teaspoons of powder with a little water, to make a paste) then add this to the still hot stock to make a thick gravy. This is optional if you don't like thick gravy.
This is a good dish to make up and put in the oven to cook, while you prepare and cook a vegetable to serve with it. You may wish to cook potatoes to go with it - if so, see my recipe for how to boil a potato at http://dreamermeg.hubpages.com/hub/Simple-meals-from-potatoes
You can also cool it and store it in the fridge to reheat later (remember safe storage and reheating practices) or frozen. If you are cooking for yourself or just for two of you, freeze half of the finished product (in its gravy) and you then have your own "ready meal" for next week or for a culinary emergency!
Your favourite meat balls?
Do you like meat balls? What are your thoughts?
DreamerMeg (author) from Northern Ireland on May 13, 2020:
Thanks for visiting. Hope you get to try the meatballs sometime.
MG Singh emge from Singapore on May 12, 2020:
Nice reading these recipes in times of quarantine. They will be a help
DreamerMeg (author) from Northern Ireland on May 12, 2020:
Thanks for visiting Patricia. I must find out how to put it into recipe format. Never tried it before. Thanks.
Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on May 12, 2020:
I could have these for breakfast!! It is early morning and I am soo hungry. I wish this was in recipe format. Thanks for sharing
.Angels are headed your way this morning. ps
DreamerMeg (author) from Northern Ireland on May 12, 2020:
Thanks for visiting Beth. They are tasty and my kids loved them when they were young.
Beth Perry from Tennesee on May 11, 2020:
I love meatballs, but have never served them in stock before. After reading your recipe, though, I will have try this. Sounds delicious!
DreamerMeg (author) from Northern Ireland on March 04, 2020:
Hi Kyler, thanks for visiting. Those would certainly make some different tasting meatballs!
Kyler J Falk from California on March 03, 2020:
I'm sure google could provide some neat suggestions, but I think I'd replace the bread crumbs and flour with some finely ground cauliflower to act as the binder instead, and ground up my own chicken or use ground turkey. Also I prefer to have a heavy hand with red pepper flakes! If it isn't spicy, I won't be satisfied!
DreamerMeg (author) from Northern Ireland on March 03, 2020:
Hi Kyler, thanks for visiting. Yes, meatballs are still a family favorite with us, though I have no found a different way again of doing them.
Kyler J Falk from California on March 03, 2020:
Meatballs have been one of my favorite meals since I was a little boy, but now I have to opt for a gluten-free and chicken or turkey alternative to the traditional beef meatballs.
Great step-by-step, made me hungry!
DreamerMeg (author) from Northern Ireland on November 07, 2019:
Yes, we love meatballs too. Glad you like them also, thanks for visiting.
Luis G Asuncion from City of San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan, Philippines on November 06, 2019:
One of my favorite recipes that I love to cook. Although, as of now, I am not eating a lot of meat.
DreamerMeg (author) from Northern Ireland on October 01, 2018:
Yes, meatballs are a great standby and everyone seems to love them, including children. Thank you for commenting.
DreamerMeg (author) from Northern Ireland on October 01, 2018:
Thank you for commenting. We love meatballs.
Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on October 01, 2018:
Meatballs are so versatile and can add interest to many meals
I have several recipes but usually wing it when I make them ...LOL. Cannot wait to try yours...thanks for sharing. Angels are on the way.ps
Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on October 01, 2018:
I've eaten plenty of meatballs in the past, but have never tried making my own. I shall follow your recipe though as it sounds really easy. Thankyou.
Norma Lawrence from California on October 22, 2016:
Thanks. Well have to try. Love meatballs
DreamerMeg (author) from Northern Ireland on August 05, 2016:
Thank you for reading and commenting Norlawrence
Norma Lawrence from California on August 05, 2016:
Great recipe. Will have to try it. Thanks
DreamerMeg (author) from Northern Ireland on July 14, 2016:
Thank you Patricia. Hope you enjoy them as much as we do.
Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on July 14, 2016:
Enjoy making meatballs...your recipe sounds tempting..will be giving this a try soon.
Angels are on the way to you this morning ps
DreamerMeg (author) from Northern Ireland on April 08, 2016:
Meatballs are very tasty and they go well with most things, including pasta. Thanks for visiting and commenting.
Nell Rose from England on April 08, 2016:
I love meatballs, I eat them pretty much a couple of times a week with pasta, so this is great? thanks, nell
DreamerMeg (author) from Northern Ireland on February 24, 2016:
I'm glad you recognise good meatballs when you see them @CoralLevang, LOL. Thanks @RoadMonkey
RoadMonkey on February 24, 2016:
An author on hubpages is called a hubber. An article is a hub. Or a hub is an article, LOL.
Coral Levang from Pacific Northwest, USA on February 23, 2016:
I suppose that I have now found where I can leave a message. I am still not sure what the difference between a hub and an article is, or an author and the hubber, but I do know a good meatball when I see it!
DreamerMeg (author) from Northern Ireland on November 25, 2015:
Thank you very much. Hope you enjoy them.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on November 25, 2015:
I don't usually read recipe articles, but I love meatballs so much I just had to stop by. Thank you for the recipe, one we are sure to try.
RoadMonkey on May 09, 2015:
We love mince and meatballs.
DreamerMeg (author) from Northern Ireland on May 08, 2015:
Mince is a great meal and very easy, even easier than meatballs!
RoadMonkey on May 07, 2015:
Thanks. It's on our menu at least once a week, summer or winter.
Suzanne Day from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on May 06, 2015:
This looks like a great winter warmer for people on a budget! I'm a big fan of mince and fat if you have a reduced shopping budget and it's good for growing kids too. Voted useful ;)
DreamerMeg (author) from Northern Ireland on February 12, 2015:
Thank you very much. I hope you enjoy them.
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on February 09, 2015:
I've eaten meatballs bought from a store, but I've never made them myself. Thanks for the recipe. Your meatballs sound much better than the ones that I've eaten in the past!
DreamerMeg (author) from Northern Ireland on September 03, 2014:
All my meals are usually experiments. Often they work the first time and maybe not subsequently! My husband prefers the tried and true.
Joanna Chandler from On Planet Earth on September 03, 2014:
LOL so you experimented your meals on the three kids and one husband? ha ha ha . Cool hub and i love meatballs but never made it personally so when i am ready to i'll check your hub out as it has good guidelines.
Thanks for sharing :)
DreamerMeg (author) from Northern Ireland on February 25, 2014:
Hope you enjoy them. Thanks for visiting.
Lynsey Hart from Lanarkshire on February 25, 2014:
Tasty sounding recipe' can't wait to try it!
DreamerMeg (author) from Northern Ireland on February 03, 2014:
That would be a tasty change. Thanks for visiting.
David Carl from New York on February 03, 2014:
Thank you for the meatball recipe. We have gotten out the habit of making them ourselves. My gramma made them all the time, as did my mother. I always loved the crispy crust on the outside. I am sure they were cooked in bacon fat too.
DreamerMeg (author) from Northern Ireland on December 31, 2013:
Yes, hadn't actually thought of them as finger foods but you're right. I might just have to find an occasion to use them that way. :) Thanks for visiting and commenting.
Linda Rogers from Minnesota on December 31, 2013:
Sounds like a delicious recipe for meatballs. I think I'll add this to the mix of finger foods for my new years eve gathering tonight. Thanks so much for the great information and the photo's to go with it.
DreamerMeg (author) from Northern Ireland on December 19, 2013:
Thanks for visiting. Meatballs are a favourite in this house.
Nell Rose from England on December 19, 2013:
I love meatballs, so this recipe is great thank you, now its bookmarked as I always buy them ready made! voted up!
DreamerMeg (author) from Northern Ireland on November 18, 2013:
Thank you for visiting. Hope you enjoy them.
JPSO138 from Cebu, Philippines, International on November 18, 2013:
I have tried making meatballs but it was more of the dry one. I will surely try this recipe as it looks very tempting. Thanks for sharing this.
DreamerMeg (author) from Northern Ireland on October 22, 2013:
Thank you for visiting. Apparently cooked oils get trans fats in them, which is NOT healthy. We outselves have now gone back to solid fats for cooking, though I would use olive oil for dressings.
Suzette Walker from Taos, NM on October 22, 2013:
This sounds and looks like a really good recipe. I have never had meatballs in gravy - being half Italian I always use them in tomato sauce. Also, my recipe calls for more bread crumbs than yours. I will have to try this sometime. I am just curious as to why your daughter and her husband have gone back to solid fat instead of using oils. I thought the oils were healthier for the arteries - better for cholesterol in the body. I have gone to using all oils even in baking because it is healthier. To each his own! LOL
DreamerMeg (author) from Northern Ireland on October 15, 2013:
Thanks for visiting and for your comment.
CraftytotheCore on October 15, 2013:
These look so delicious. I have never made meatballs in gravy. I will definitely try it. Also, I'm not familiar with goose fat. Very interesting. Thank you for such an awesome recipe.
DreamerMeg (author) from Northern Ireland on August 21, 2013:
Thank you. We will be having them again tonight, too. Probably with tomato puree on them, as a change.
Shelley Watson on August 20, 2013:
I love meatballs, such a satisfying simple meal. Thank you for this recipe which I will be trying tonight.
DreamerMeg (author) from Northern Ireland on July 08, 2013:
Thank you. I hope you enjoy it.
Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on July 08, 2013:
Lovely and simple recipe. Thanks for sharing.
DreamerMeg (author) from Northern Ireland on April 25, 2013:
Thank you for visiting.
ignugent17 on April 25, 2013:
Looks good! Thanks for sharing your recipe. :-)
DreamerMeg (author) from Northern Ireland on December 11, 2012:
Thanks Ghaelach. Glad to know others enjoy them too!
Ghaelach on December 11, 2012:
Don't have them every day, but still love them.
Living over here in Düsseldorf Germany where your little meat balls are a common bite.
They call them Frikadella's here, but are basically the same although flattened a bit like a burger, but much tastier.
Thanks for sharing.
Take care and have a nice evening.
DreamerMeg (author) from Northern Ireland on November 05, 2012:
Thank you very much for your kind comment
rjsadowski on November 05, 2012:
Meatballs are always tasty and I like your use of gravy rather than tomato sauce. Your pictures are very useful and the ones with the browned meatballs make my mouth water.