Thursday, October 29, 2009

Recipe for Individual-Serving Meatloaf Balls with Italian Sausage, Ground Beef, and Peppers

Individual-Serving Meatloaf Balls with Italian Sausage, Ground Beef, and PeppersIf anyone is scratching their head over the name of this recipe, let me start by telling you how I came up with Meatloaf Balls. A while ago, I happened to see a site where a famous food personality (who shall not be named!) was touting the idea of meatloaf cooked in muffin tins. I loved the idea, which sounded perfect for any house where some family members want different ingredients in their meatloaf than others. I tried the meatloaf cooked in muffin tins, and (putting it as nicely as I can) it was horrible. All the fat from the meat collected in the bottom of the muffin tins, and the sides of the mini-meatloaves didn't brown. I still liked the idea of individual meatloaves though, so I tried again, making the meatloaf mixture into large balls that I flattened down slightly when I cooked them. Voila, meatloaf balls! And if you have kids in the family who won't eat red or green pepper, this recipe is a perfect one to divide into two variations to please the whole family.

Remove the ground beef and sweet Italian sausage from the fridge and break apart into a bowl, then let it come to room temperature while you chop and saute the vegetables. (If you're adapting the recipe to please different members of the family, I'd put the meat into two bowls.)

Since the meatloaf balls cook much more quickly than meatloaf, I sauteed the onion, red pepper, and green pepper before I added it to the meat.

When the vegetables are starting to soften, add minced garlic, dried fennel, dried oregano, and dried basil and saute a few minutes more.

While vegetables are cooling, I added breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, Spike seasoning, onion powder and garlic powder to the meat. (I'm a bit of a fanatic about sprinkling these dry ingredients over the surface of the meat so they'll get evenly distributed in the mixture.) Wash hands, then begin to mix the seasonings into the meat with your hands.

Then add cooled onion-pepper mixture and 2 eggs to the bowl with the meat mixture, and mix a bit more with your hands. (Only mix as much as you need to to get the ingredients well-combined, because over-mixing makes tough meatloaf.)

Here's how the meatloaf should look once all the ingredients are well mixed.

For years I've used this kind of roasting try to cook meatloaf, because the holes allow the fat to drain down into a tray, keeping the fat away from the meat. I buy these roasting pans at thrift shops, and I have a good collection of them!

I used a 1 cup measuring cup to scoop out the meat and ended up with 9 large meatloaf balls.

I made a mixture of reduced-sugar ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and a touch of balsamic vinegar to brush on the meatloaf balls.

I brushed this mixture on the meatloaf balls, and I tried to brush it on so it completely covered the top and down the sides. I basted once more with the extra sauce while the meatloaf balls were cooking too.

Here's how the finished meatloaf balls looked when they came out of the oven. I cut them in half to serve, but if you're serving kids it might be fun to leave them whole. I served these to my dad who said they were the best meatloaf I've ever made!


Meatloaf Balls with Italian Sausage, Ground Beef, and Peppers
(Makes about 9 meatloaf balls, recipe created by Kalyn)

Ingredients:
24 oz. lean ground beef (use beef with less than 10% fat for South Beach diet)
12 oz. sweet Italian sausage (use turkey Sausage for South Beach diet)
2-3 tsp. olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 large green bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 large red bell pepper, finely chopped
(You could use one red pepper or one green pepper if you prefer.)
1 T minced garlic
1/2 tsp. ground fennel
1/2 tsp. dried oregano (I used Greek oregano)
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs (I make my own breadcrumbs by drying whole wheat bread in the oven, but you could also use ground oatmeal, smashed crackers, or almond meal as a binder if you prefer)
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 tsp. Spike seasoning
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup ketchup (use reduced sugar ketchup for South Beach Diet)
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375F/190C. Remove the ground beef and sausage from refrigerator. Squeeze sausage out of casings and break apart ground beef into bowl so it can come to room temperature.

Add 2 tsp. olive oil to large non-stick frying pan, add chopped onion, red pepper, and green pepper, and saute until vegetables are starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Decide whether you need to add another tsp. olive oil, then add the minced garlic, ground fennel, dried oregano, and dried basil and saute 1-2 minutes more. Turn off heat and let vegetables cool enough to handle.

Sprinkle bread crumbs, salt and pepper, Spike seasoning, onion powder, and garlic powder evenly over the surface of the meat. Wash your hands, then gently mix until seasonings are barely combined with the meat. (You'll be mixing more when you add vegetables.) Add the cooled onion-pepper mixture and eggs, and mix again, until all ingredients are well distributed. (Don't overmix because that will make the meatloaf tough.)

Spray a roasting pan with olive oil or non-stick spray (preferably with holes so fat can drain.) Use a 1 cup measure to scoop out meatloaf mixture and form into balls, then smash down slightly so they stay in place on the roasting pan. Whisk together ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and balsamic vinegar and use a pastry brush to spread evenly over all the surfaces of meatloaf balls. (You will probably have some of the sauce mixture left, which you can use to baste with.)

Bake meatloaf balls 35-40 minutes, or until meat thermometer registers at least 165F/75C. I rotated the pan and basted with the remaining sauce after about 20 minutes. Serve hot, cutting in half if desired.

These can also be sliced and served on sandwiches. The meatloaf balls freeze well and can be heated in the microwave, but don't overcook or the meat will be tough.


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South Beach Suggestions:
Made with low-fat ground beef, turkey Italian sausage, and whole wheat bread crumbs, this would be suitable for phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet. I think this could be made without bread crumbs (or with almond meal instead of bread crumbs) if you wanted to make it for phase one, but I haven't tried it. This would be great with Roasted Broccoli with Garlic or Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic, Parmesan, and Pine nuts as a vegetable. Roasted Butternut Squash with Rosemary and Balsamic Vinegar would make a great side dish.

More Ideas for Meat Loaf:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Phase One Meatloaf with Fennel, Tomatoes, and Flax Seed Meal from Kalyn's Kitchen
Horseradish Meatloaf from Pinch My Salt
Meatloaf with Herb Cream Sauce from Life's Ambrosia
Frugal Low-Carb Meatloaf from Frugal Cooking
Meatloaf with Mushroom Sauce from My Own Sweet Thyme
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)
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30 comments:

  1. I've always thought muffin meatloaf was a good idea, but then again I've never tried to make it. I like the idea of single serving size anything, though. Your recipe looks like it has so much flavor!

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  2. I have seen the word comforting splashed all over the blogosphere to describe all the fall flavours...but these truly are comforting.

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  3. Lately I've been into "giant" meatballs, too. I like to serve them with, or in salad, and bypass the traditional spaghetti-and-meatballs meals. Who needs the extra carbs?

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  4. This is a great post. I'm glad to hear about the muffin pan problem. I thought that sounded like a good idea also.

    Meatloaf is on my list of things to make this weekend and I'm going to use your method. I'm hoping I can find the draining roast pan sheet today. We've got 25 inches of snow in Denver, so my travel is limited.

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  5. Where on earth have you found whole wheat breadcrumbs? Any brand in particular? Thanks for a great-looking recipe!

    If I cant find the wholegrain crumbs, I'll try it with ground oatmeal. I use it for binding meatballs, so I expect it should work.

    Georgie Fear RD
    www.askgeorgie.com

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  6. Joanne, I was charmed by the idea too, but didn't like the result at all.

    Val, thanks! They turned out great.

    Lydia, love the idea of serving meatballs in salad!

    LeeAnn, I buy them at the thrift store (I actually have a couple of different ones, that was just the most photogenic one.) They're old broiler pans that come with a stove.

    Georgie, I used to buy Ians brand at Whole Foods, but now they don't have whole wheat so I just dry out bread cubes in the oven and buzz in food processor.

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  7. These look fantastic and actually I'm a big fan of individual meatballs. You just freeze, pull out and serve with sauce atop and dinner is done. Can't wait to try this recipe!

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  8. Meatloaf is a hard sell in this house, which is a bummer since I happen to like it. I love the individual servings - that way I can make it and freeze some for whenever I want it. To heck with the rest of them! ;)

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  9. Kalyn this sounds absolutely wonderful and I think this will help with the meatloaf craving I've had recently!

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  10. Kalyn

    I am of the opinion that you are one of the very few who could make me want to eat something called meatloaf balls...

    These look great- love the colorful cooking pics!

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  11. Hanni, I'm liking that too. I still have a few of these in the freezer.

    Cate, this would probably be an especially hard sell with Nick and Madeline with the peppers, but I bet you'd like it.

    Mrs. L., I think the craving for meatloaf was exactly how I came to make this myself. Next up is Ina's turkey meatloaf I think!

    Winnie, thank you! I will take that as a compliment of the highest order. (They are really good too, just ask my dad!)

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  12. I use oatmeal as my filler and bake in a silicone muffin pan; they brown. I use 93% lean and there is almost no fat. Freeze 4 to a qt ziplock bag. OK to slice for a sandwich and this is my way of cooking for one. Of course, TJ turkey (they have beef too) frozen are also in the freezer!

    Make the meatballs without onion and seasonings and use in chicken stock for Asian hot pot. That's what I do with TJ, add rice-soba noodles or the tofu ones with no carbs. Asian seasonings, a few slivers of whatever ; let each person choose from carrots, g onion, green peas and so on. Better than ramen any day. Good way to recycle left overs too.

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  13. Perfect! I have been craving meatloaf lately, and I love the idea of the meatloaf balls.

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  14. oh this look absolutely delicious! love the reduced ketchup sauce you've put on top that's turned into a sort of crust. what a great idea!

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  15. Love this. These would be great for left over meatloaf sandwiches too!!!!

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  16. Anonymous, to each their own. I used silicone too, but mind were soggy on the sides when I tried the muffin cups. No TJ in Utah, but good ideas for those who have it.

    Elenka, thanks.

    Pam, they cook faster, which is a plus for me.

    Diva, I liked the topping; it definitely added something.

    Chris, my dad loves meatloaf sandwiches too!

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  17. I, too, had tried the recipe from She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, and was underwhelmed. THIS is a great idea!

    And the idea of using almond meal? Ingenious. I have to admit I've been experimenting with gluten-free substitute for breadcrumbs for a while, and I never found anything I loved. Plus, lower glycemic index, right?

    I am all over this.

    - Anne

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  18. Anne, chuckling here. She-who-shall-not-be-named deserves more credit than some people give her, but not for that idea. I haven't used almond meal in meatloaf, but Elana from Elana's Pantry assures me it will work just great (she has a recipe for turkey meatloaf in her book that uses almond flour.)

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  19. SO DAMN CUTE!
    Want.
    (Also I want your vintage bake sheets.)

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  20. Hi Kalyn,

    Thank you for all of your energy and time that you put into your website. All I can say is delicious delicious!

    I have a question. You wrote about Penzeys Turkey Base and Better Than Bouillon Turkey Base. Which is better.. why and is it good for SBD.

    Thank you,

    Aleese

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  21. Aleese, I prefer Penzeys Turkey Base, but the Better Than Bouillon turkey base is also not bad. I wouldn't say either of these is a product that's bad or good for the South Beach diet, they're just something to make turkey gravy more flavorful without adding a lot of fat.

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  22. Kalyn.. thank you for your prompt response!

    Aleese

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  23. I love these... First time visiting, found you through Mango's site. You have great recipes, easy to follow and perfect instructions. Thanks so much for blogging, you are a winner!

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  24. I just found your blog and am so excited to have a source for healthy recipes!! This is great! Thank you! I particularly related to the meatloaf balls since I've been making my meatloaf in mini-loaf pans for quite some time... definitely helps if you have a picky eater or two, and the mini loaf slices are cute on a plate!

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  25. Year on the grill, thanks!

    Sara, glad you like the blog. I did love the idea of individual meatloaf servings, and wondered why I hadn't thought of it a long time ago!

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  26. Looking forward to trying this recipe! What is the name of the yummy coleslaw pictured beside it?

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  27. Hi Kalyn! I was in a meatloaf mood today and had some whole wheat breadcrumbs in the pantry, so I searched your site and found this recipe. I made them tonight with a few modifications and they came out FABULOUSLY!!!!

    Thanks so much! (Mine took a looong time to be done, 55-60 minutes. I kept stabbing the poor guys with a thermometer because I'm paranoid of getting sick. But they were worth every minute!

    I'll post the modification on my blog soon with a link back to you as the original :)

    Georgie

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  28. Georgie, so glad you liked it. Will watch for your version.

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Thanks for joining the conversation! I love hearing from readers and even though I can't always reply to every comment, I will always answer specific questions on a recipe as soon as possible. Sometimes I'm answering by iPhone, so my replies may be short!

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