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Tender Meatballs

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I am hoping for help from all the great cooks out there. I want to make some meatballs for New Years Eve but every time I make meatballs they turn out kind of .. the best way I can think to describe it is the texture is course. I used to buy the meatballs from Costco and they have a much smoother texture, very tender. My meatballs are like ground beef smushed together. Does that make sense to anyone? Anyway, do I need to knead and process them more or is there a secret ingrediant I don't know about? I usually use ground beef, onion, egg and gluten free bread crumbs. I just blend it all together with my hands and then make it into balls. Any suggestions? Also, what is that sauce for meatballs that involves grape jelly? I think you can also use it with little smokies. Thank everyone!

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Hello pinktroll :)

This is the recipe that I use. I love them with spaghetti and my gluten loving fiance also loves them. He's Italian and says they are better than his mother's!

Gluten Free Italian Meatballs

1 pound ground beef

1/3 cup gluten free bread crumbs (See below for what I use)

1/4 cup milk or milk substitute of your choice

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 cup onion, chopped

1 egg

1/2 tsp dried Basil

1/2 tsp dried parsley

Breadcrumb Mix:

1/3 cup tortilla crumbs (that come in the round can)

1 tsp Italian Seasonings

1 tsp Dried Basil

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

dash of pepper


1. Heat oven to 400 degrees

2. Mix bread crumb ingredients in a large bowl.

3. Add all other ingredients to breadcrumbs and mix thoroughly. (I use my hands to mix it)

4. Shape into 1 1/2 inch meatballs and place into a 13x9x2 rectangular pan.

5. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until the centers are no longer pink.

I have found that if you rinse your hands frequently in a bowl of warm water as you form the meatballs, they don't stick to your hands as much. Also, it is important that these bake in the deeper pan. I tried making them on a cookie sheet and they stuck to the pan terribly. I use a glass baking dish for my meatballs.

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Mine are usually pretty tender. I add ketchup or tomato sauce to mine too...so they're a little wetter than the normal meat ball.

It also helps to sear them THEN add them to sauce first. This keeps the juices inside instead of cooking the juices out of the meat.

I scoop mine with a small cookie scoop and then round them a little then put in a LOW pan and put a lid on until the outsides are completely cooked (okay, so this isn't really a sear, but a steam). THEN I put them in sauce.

The grape jelly sauce is one jar grape jelly to equal size jar of chili sauce (I think Heinz is gluten free or was the last time I used it). this makes a nice sweet & sour meatbal. I always mix the grape jelly and chilli sauce together really smooth before adding to the meatballs.

You can vary it a little too by using cranberry sauce instead of grape jelly. :D

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I find that when I ask the butcher to grind it fresh for me it is finer than some of the pre-packaged ground meat. I also deep fry my meatballs sometimes :o . it makes them nicely browned on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside. A little tomato product, milk or other liquid added to the breadcumbs helps. It is possible to overmix. I usually mix with a fork but sometimes use the food procesor, which grinds it a little finer ut have to be careful not to overmix or they'll end up hard.

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Don't overmix - that will toughen it up. The more liquid you add, the softer the finished meatballs will be. The crumbs will soak it up. I make Italian meatballs - ground beef, gluten-free crumbs (lots), lots of minced garlic, parsley, salt, one egg per pound, and while I mix it with one hand I use the other hand to add water a little at a time from a cup I have ready, until it feels moist enough. My father, the Italian who grew up in the Depression, says if you don't have breadcrumbs you can use things like cooked rice or potato or even cooked lentils to stretch the meat - anything moist. I roll it into 2" balls and saute in olive oil, repeatedly turning, until crunchy on all sides, but if you have enough time you can drop them, raw or cooked, into tomato sauce while it cooks and they will come out extremely tender - you just have to make sure they're in there long enough. At least an hour would be my guess, although I don't do the raw ones myself. If you're going to simmer them in sauce you could bake the whole batch in the oven to get them cooked through, then transfer to the sauce. We usually like ours crunchy, so frying does it for us.

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