Few dishes have a complete success and among these there are certainly meatballs or vegetarian balls. Fried, baked, stewed, and not only meat, but also with fish or completely vegetarian: everyone has their own preferite recipe. Yet to prepare perfect meatballs or vegetarian balls it is not enough to follow grandmother's advice: you must also be very careful not to make mistakes, especially these five you will read.
Fried, baked, with tomato sauce, meat, vegetarian and even couscous: those who make meatballs or vegetarian balls are never wrong. Yet some small mistakes are always around the corner. Whether you follow grandma's recipe or you like to experiment, cooking meatballs or vegetarian balls can be a real ritual and ruining the recipe for some small mistake would be a shame. Too firm or loose dough, uneven cooking or even worse a poorly balanced flavor; here's how to avoid mistakes and bring perfect meatballs or vegetarian balls to the table.
1. Choose poor quality ingredients
To bring great meatballs or vegetarian balls to the table, you must pay attention to the choice of ingredients; it is quite important that they are of good quality. Meatballs or vegetarian balls are fast to prepare and a "recycling" recipe, but this does not mean that you can use anything.
The important thing is that minced meat, better if mixed (beef and pork), must be fresh and of certain origin, the same is true if you intend to prepare fish balls. If you have already cooked meat in the refrigerator, you can use it to prepare meatballs, in which case you must be careful to balance the dough correctly with dry and wet ingredients; but for this let’s go to point 2.
2. Unbalanced ingredients
In cooking, balance is everything and meatballs or vegetarian balls are no exception: for a perfect result, flavors and textures must be perfectly balanced. Meat, eggs, bread soaked in milk, parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, garlic, salt and pepper: these are the ingredients and this is the order to follow.
Bread is better if whole, less chewy than white, but always if squeezed well, so as to eliminate excess milk that could "loosen" your dough.
Eggs topic: the ratio to be respected is one egg per 400 grams of minced meat, no more and no less; but, if your dough is too loose and not very workable, add a little beaten egg or a boiled and crushed potato little by little. If you use very seasoned Parmesan cheese, decrease the salt or increase the spices and herbs, to lighten the taste of your meatballs.
3. Don't taste them
Stop everyone, we are not telling you to eat or taste the raw dough, especially if you have used a mixed minced meat or pork meat. Tasting meatballs is possible as well as useful without taking any risk: take a very small portion, make a small ball and cook it for a few minutes – just enough time not to risk a bad stomach ache – and taste, just so you can be sure not to having made mistake one and mistake two and moving forward in preparation.
4. Cook too much or too little
Meatballs and vegetarian balls have their proper cooking time and certain rules must be respected. Fried, baked, in sauce or stewed: whatever the cooking method you choose, it is important that the meatballs or vegetarian balls are well compacted (so you won't risk breaking them during cooking).
If you choose to fry them, it is better to use peanut oil (that is much lighter than olive oil), wait for it to reach the right temperature (try it with breadcrumbs); then dip the meatballs and wait until they are golden brown.
With tomato sauce: tradition says that in this case they should first be fried and then left to cook slowly in tomato sauce. For "lighter" meatballs, you can brown them lightly in a bit of oil until a light crust has formed on the surface (it is caused by the Maillard reaction) and then cover them with the tomato sauce.
Baked: 180 degrees C for at least 30 minutes after rigorously passing them in the breadcrumbs and having brushed them with oil.
5. Be shy with quantities
Preparing a few meatballs or vegetarian balls is not only a mistake but it can also be a reason for great “arguments” in family or between friends. Who takes the last one? And then, let's face it, the meatballs or vegetarian balls are also excellent the next day, cold or slightly heated in the oven. Don't be shy and always prepare a few more meatballs and vegetarian balls, in this way you will have lunch and a friend assured. Last but not least, if you prepare meatballs or vegetarian balls with tomasto sauce, keep some of them aside and abound with the tomato sauce to season some delicious spaghetti, a great dish that has no rivals.