It’s 10:30 at night and I’m just starting to write this post. I thought about putting it off, but then I would be falling into my own self-fulfilling prophecy of abandoning the blog again. The first time you skip a post, you’re racked with guilt. The second time you skip a post, the guilt is there, but it is fleeting. The third time? You reach for the remote and start scrolling through the Netflix endless abyss of programing. What post? What blog? But in all honesty, this recipe is too good not to share.
Not all food benefits from a kiss of smoke, but arguably, most meat does. Case in point, these meatballs. Sure, they’d be fantastic seared in a skillet on top of the stove and finished in the oven in a marinara bath, but they could be so much more. Cooked outside over an open flame, they pick up flavors that only a well seasoned grill can impart, a crusty bit of char on the surface provides a contrast in texture to the tender interior, and a whisper of smoke captures a rich earthiness that cannot be replicated indoors.
A meatball is a humble thing, but add the element of smoke & fire, a carefully crafted recipe, and a light hand, it can be taken to a different level. That’s why this dish ended up on our list of favorites for 2018.
SMOKED MEATBALLS IN MARINARA
2 lbs. 80/20 (or 85/15) Ground Beef
1 lb. Hot Italian Sausage (casings removed)
9 tablespoons Panko Bread Crumbs
5 tablespoons Parmesan Cheese (grated)
2 tablespoons AlbuKirky Seasonings Casa Seasoning
1/4 cup dried Parsley
1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder
28 oz. can Crushed Tomatoes
6 oz. can Tomato Paste
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
Dried Basil to taste
Dried Oregano to taste
Salt to taste
Mix all ingredients for meatballs in a large bowl until blended. Do not over mix.
Using a large ice cream scoop (disher) form loose, relatively uniform balls and place on a baking sheet. DO NOT pack the mixture into the scoop as this will yield hard, dense meatballs..
On the grill/Big Green Egg, sear the meatballs on all sides over high heat. Remove from grill/BGE and set aside.
Set up grill/BGE for indirect cooking and place meatballs back on the grill/BGE. Smoke at 250-300º until meatballs reach an internal temp of 140º. Remove meatballs from grill/BGE and place in a rectangular baking pan with high walls.
In a medium bowl, stir together crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, olive oil, salt, basil and oregano until well blended.
Pour marinara mixture around meatballs.
Place pan on the grill/BGE and simmer meatballs in sauce over low heat (250-300º) for 35-40 minutes with the lid closed checking frequently. Add a little water if sauce begins to scorch or get too thick.
Remove meatballs from grill/BGE and serve over pasta.
Sometimes we forfeit the meatballs and place the entire meat mixture into a large, well-oiled cast iron skillet. We’ll smoke this until it reaches an internal temp of 160º. There’s usually a pretty good puddle of fat and juice on top, but we’ll add a bit of our Red Chile BBQ Sauce anyway and then let it go for another 15 minutes. After we pull it off the heat and let it sit for another 15 minutes, that luscious fat and juice gets reabsorbed back into the meat. Now you see it, now you don’t…it’s like meat magic. The result is an awesome meatloaf which we cut into pie-shaped wedges to eat. No matter what form you decide to try this recipe, meatball or meatloaf, I’m pretty sure you’re going to like it.