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Cooking with Meatballs

Similar to meat loaf, meatballs are versatile and easy to improvise. Meatballs are made from a seasoned mixture of ground meat, often including beef, veal, pork, lamb, or a combination. They can be cooked by practically any method: grilling, braising, poaching, or baking. In order to shape meatballs, wet your hands with cold water to keep the meat from sticking. Pinch off a small amount of the seasoned meat mixture and roll it gently into a ball between your hands.

To make evenly sized meatballs, form the meat mixture into a cylinder with a diameter equal to the desired diameter of the meatballs. Cut the cylinder crosswise into equal-size pieces and roll each piece into a ball. If you prefer tender and light-textured meatballs, handle the meat as little as possible. Overhandling makes for tough meatballs.

You can also prepared stewed meatballs that are crisp and browned crust. Just saute the meatballs until evenly browned before adding to the sauce. Or, broil the meatballs, turning frequently to brown completely. To help fried meatballs brown without sticking or crumbling, dredge the meatballs with flour before frying.

Meatballs can be prepared ahead of time. Put uncooked meatballs on a baking sheet and freeze them uncovered. Once frozen, transfer to a zipper-lock plastic bag. Defrost just the number of meatballs that you need in the refrigerator before cooking. Or freeze cooked meatballs. After cooking, cool them to room temperature, then freeze and store in the same way.

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