A great low sodium staple that comes together in 30 minutes for a quick meatball sandwich or your favorite spaghetti and meatball dinner. If you have a low sodium bread readily available, a panade (bread soaked in milk) helps make the meat more tender. But I've also made these meatballs many times without any milk and bread and they come out really well because they're a mix of beef and pork, so a little fattier than plain beef. Leaving out the bread and milk will also reduce the sodium. The key is to not overwork the meat when you're mixing everything together and forming the meatballs. Two pounds of meatballs may be more than you need for dinner but make them all and then freeze half. They defrost quickly and will make for a really easy weeknight dinner later on.
Servings: 32 meatballs
Sodium: 22 mg sodium per meatball
Time: 30 minutes
1 pound ground beef*
1 pound ground pork*
2 medium shallots, diced small
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 slice (20 g) of low sodium bread (optional)
1/4 cup milk (optional)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons fresh minced herbs like basil, oregano or parsley (or 1 tablespoon dried)
1 tablespoon salt free mustard (like Westbrae's) or 1 teaspoon dry ground mustard
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
*More fat means more flavor. I'll usually try to strike a balance by using a leaner beef (10% fat) and a fattier pork (20% fat), or vice versa.
1) In a small bowl, tear the bread into small pieces and soak in milk for 5 minutes. I use 2% milk but any kind will do.
2) In a small skillet or pan, heat up enough oil to coat the pan and cook the shallot, garlic, and fennel seeds over low-medium heat until soft and fragrant, about 5-6 minutes. If you want, crush the fennel seeds first to bring out more flavor. Alternatively, use a microwave safe dish and microwave the fennel seeds, garlic, shallots in about 1-2 tablespoons of oil until soft and fragrant, about 1-2 minutes and let cool for about 5 minutes.
3) Preheat your oven to 425°F.
4) Combine the bread and milk mixture, shallots/garlic/fennel seeds, and all remaining ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Here's where you don't want to overwork the meat. Use a spoon, your hands, or a large fork and just until everything is combined. Over mixing the meat results in a sort of dry, mushy, crumbly meatball.
5) Roll into 32 meatballs and place evenly on two half-sheet pans lined with foil or parchment paper. I find the easiest way to form equal-ish sized meatballs is to divide the meat into 4 equal-ish portions, then divide each of those into 8 portions. I break off the meat and place on my sheet pans and eyeball it so each is about the same size. Once you're satisfied with the sizing, put a little water on your palms then gently roll each meatball between your palms.
6) Bake for 10 minutes.
7) Optional - to add a saucy glaze (like barbecue sauce), after baking for 10 minutes, take the meatballs out and roll each hot meatball in sauce and then place them all on a clean sheet pan and bake for an additional 3-4 minutes.
-These meatballs freeze really well. I freeze in ziplock bags and defrost overnight in the refrigerator but you could also simmer them very slowly in some sauce to defrost.