If you have time on a weekend afternoon, and like meatballs, making a batch of them is a really smart thing to do for weeknight meals. I tend to make a lot at once and freeze them in serving size bags or containers. I use them for spaghetti and meatballs or I add them to soups. In a pinch, they make a great snack for when guests stop by.
My usual method of making meatballs involves mixing the ground meat with other ingredients, rolling the mixture into evenly sized meatballs and then searing them in olive oil in a cast iron skillet until browned. Unfortunately, I often get a lot of grease splatter while the meatballs are searing and a few unevenly cooked meatballs because they don’t always roll easily. My kitchen is a mess by the time they are browned. I will often finish the meatballs off in the oven or in a simmering pot of tomato sauce to make sure they are fully cooked. Adding them to a pot of sauce offers another dimension of flavor to both the meatballs and the sauce.
I recently discovered that there is a less messy way to make meatballs that also ensures that they are cooked evenly. You can do this by using a George Foreman Basic Grill. It isn’t much different than making hamburgers on the grill.
I have 2 recipes for meatballs on a GF grill. The first is for beef meatballs that can be finished in a pot of red sauce for pasta or meatball sandwiches. The second is for turkey meatballs that can be used for soup. I should warn you that when you make these meatballs they may not stick around long enough to find their way onto pasta, or into soup or meatball sandwiches. As you transfer them to a plate, they may disappear. They are really good finger food right off the hot grill.
Grilled Beef Meatballs and Tomato Sauce
- 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 4 (14 ounce) cans fire roasted, diced tomatoes (or just crushed tomatoes)
- 1 tsp brown sugar (optional)
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 to 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 slice of bread torn into small pieces
- 1 TBS milk
- 3 TBS grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tsps Italian herb seasoning blend
- Salt and pepper
- 1 egg
- EVOO for grilling
Total time:1 hour 5 min – Prep time:10 min – Cook time:55 min – Serves:4 people
1. In a saucepot, warm the EVOO over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until lightly golden. Add the red pepper flakes and sauté for an additional 30 seconds.
2. Stir in the tomatoes and juices, basil, bay leaf, salt, and pepper. Bring this to boil. Turn the heat down to a rolling simmer so the tomatoes don’t splatter & partially cover. Cook the sauce for approximately 45 minutes until the tomatoes start to break down. If the sauce becomes too thick, you can thin it with a little water.
3. At approximately 30 minutes start your meatballs. Preheat the GF grill while you mix and roll.
4. Place the bread in a large bowl and soak it with the milk. Get your hands in there. Add the ground beef, cheese, Italian seasoning, salt & pepper, and egg. Combine well with your hands. Shape into golf ball size meatballs by wetting your fingertips with a little water and rolling the mixture with the palms of your hands. Set these aside on a plate or on a counter covered with plastic wrap.
5. Coat the grill plates with EVOO. Place as many meatballs on the grill as will fit without crowding too much and close the top. Cook for 5 minutes or until the internal temperature reads 145°F. You will have to do this in batches.
6. As the meatballs finish cooking, place them in the simmering sauce to stay warm and to absorb the flavors and moisture of the sauce. This will also add flavor and body to the sauce.
7. Remove the bay leaf from the sauce & serve over your favorite pasta, or inside crusty rolls as meatball sandwiches. Alternatively, cool the sauce and freeze in containers for up to a couple of months.
Grilled Turkey Meatballs for Soup, Sauce, or Snacks
- 1 lb ground dark turkey meat
- 1 TBS extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) or one small egg
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 sprigs fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 2 tsps dried oregano
- 2 tsps dried basil
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- EVOO for grilling
Total time: 20 min – Prep time: 10 min – Cook time: 10 min per batch – Serves: 4 people
1. Start by placing a platter in your refrigerator to get it cold. This will help the meatballs to stay formed in balls while rolling them out.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the first 7 ingredients with your hands to combine well.
3. Preheat your GF grill to high and start shaping the meatballs. Shape into golf ball size meatballs by wetting your fingertips with a little water and rolling the mixture with the palms of your hands. Set these aside on the chilled plate until all are made.
4. Coat the grill plates with EVOO. Place as many meatballs on the grill as will fit without crowding too much and close the top. Cook for 5 minutes. Open the grill and move or turn over the meatballs. Cook for another 5 minutes or until the internal temperature reads 170°F. You will have to do this in batches.
5. As the meatballs finish grilling place them on a clean platter. Serve with toothpicks as an appetizer or use them in pasta sauce or in soup. While turkey meatballs are wet when forming, they are sometimes dry after cooking. This is why they hold up well in soup, such as Italian Wedding Soup. A recipe follows.
Italian Wedding Soup with Grilled Turkey Meatballs
- Grilled turkey meatballs from the recipe above
- 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup minced yellow or white onion
- 3 carrots, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
- 2 celery stalks, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 10 cups chicken stock or broth
- 1 cup acini de pe pe, orzo, or other very small pasta
- 12 ounces baby spinach
- 2 TBS fresh basil, chopped finely
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese for topping
Total time: 1 hour – Prep time: 40 min – Cook time: 20 min – Serves: 6 people
1. In a large soup pot, heat the EVOO over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery. Sauté until softened, approximately 6 minutes.
2. Add the wine and heat through, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes to deglaze the pan. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
3. Turn the heat down to a rolling simmer. Add the pasta to the stock and cook for approximately 7 minutes until the pasta is almost tender or al dente.
4. Add the spinach, meatballs, and basil. Simmer for 1 minute or until the spinach is wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Serve the soup in bowls with a spoonful of cheese on top.