Monday, January 30, 2012

Slow Cooker Italian Meatballs

Like Stephanie, I cooked the meatballs pictured below on low for 5 hours, and then let them sit on warm for another 3 ½ hours before dinner was served.

Slow Cooker Italian Meatballs
recipe adapted from A Year of Slow Cooking

¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
1 ½ pounds lean ground beef
4 slices smoked bacon
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup dry breadcrumbs
1 egg
½ medium yellow onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups beef stock
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

Cut the bacon into 1-inch pieces and place into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the bacon until it is evenly ground and no large pieces remain. Pour 1 cup of flour into a shallow dish.

In a large bowl combine the bacon with the chopped parsley and ground beef. Add in Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, eggs, and the dried spices. Mix gently until evenly combined. Using a portioning scoop or 2 spoons, shape the meat mixture into 3 inch-sized balls lightly dust each meatball with flour. Be careful not to pack the meat mixture too tightly together or the resulting meatballs will be tough. Place meatballs on a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze, uncovered, for at least two hours. If you plan to freeze overnight, cover the meatballs.

Use a 6-quart slow cooker. Spray the inside of your cooker with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

Once your meatballs are frozen, place them one-by-one (don’t dump) into your lightly greased slow cooker. It's okay to stack them. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the broth and tomato paste to create a gravy. Pour this evenly over the meatballs. Cover, and cook on low for 5 hours, or until the meatballs have browned and are fully cooked.