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Meatballs for a Crowd

January 22, 2009 | Meat & Poultry

I made meatball subs for the Whiz Kids tutoring program at Confluence on Tuesday, and needed a way to cook for a crowd (40 people). This worked so well I thought I’d share it with all of you so you could use this technique if you ever need to cook meatballs for a large party, family reunion, or other event.

I like meatballs that are cooked in the marinara sauce – it adds flavor to the meat and keeps them nice and moist – but you can also just bake them on a nonstick baking sheet and add the sauce later if you like that texture better. Use your favorite meatball recipe, or give mine a try – and feel free to combine beef with pork and/or veal in this recipe if you prefer.

Serves 6

1 1/2 pounds lean beef, ground
1/4 cup chopped basil
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/3 cup plain bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 cloves garlic, minced (or more if you really like garlic)
2 large eggs, beaten

In a large bowl, mix together the basil (or other herbs as desired), cheese, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, garlic and eggs. Add the ground beef and mix lightly, taking care not to overwork the meat. Shape into 12 meatballs. Heat marinara sauce in a large stock pot, then carefully add the meatballs. Bring to a slow simmer and continue to cook, covered, for 30 minutes or longer.

In order to make the recipe in volume I started with a huge bowl and first mixed the seasonings with the eggs. I didn’t have fresh basil so used a combination of dried basil and oregano. I also added some paprika because I had a tiny amount left in an old jar. And I forgot the garlic!

Next I mixed in the salt, pepper, bread crumbs and cheese so that everything would combine well with the meat.

It took awhile, but I got it all mixed nicely and then started shaping my meatballs.

I poured about an inch of marinara sauce in the bottom of several large baking pans (for big projects like this I buy the Contadina spaghetti sauce that they sell in the huge can at Costco), then settled the meatballs into the sauce to bake. They cooked for about an hour in a 350 degree oven, then I tossed them all together with the sauce. To serve as sub sandwiches I nestled a piece of provolone cheese in a hot dog bun and topped with 2-3 meatballs, some sauce, and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese – they were a big hit with the kids!

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