Beautiful, slow cooked beef meatballs in a rich tomato sauce. No browning involved, yet your meatballs will stay in one gorgeous piece; until you devour them that is.
I made many many meatballs before I got to the perfect one. At some point it seemed like it was all we ever had for dinner. The Mister loves them, but I was getting perilously close to the point where he was going to explode if he saw another meatball in front of him. My issues were getting the right balance of ingredients (sometimes too much wine, sometimes too many breadcrumbs etc) but the main problem I was facing was their falling apart before they even got to the plate. Tender meat is great, but mushy meatballs are not.
Then, finally, I came across the information that would change my slow-cooker-meatball-making life. The trick? The freezer. Just an hour’s time-out for the newly shaped meatballs to rest in the freezer, and then into the slow cooker they go. No faffing around with a frying pan. And it works. They turn out beautifully, whichever type of sauce you cook them in. And while you’re at it, why not make an extra batch to leave in the freezer for next time? Ready frozen meatballs make for amazingly quick preparation on a morning when you are running late/can’t be bothered but still fancy a decent dinner.
While doing all that internet research I did stumble on another trick, which would have been my plan B if the freezer tip didn’t work. The microwave. Yes, a bit of forehead slapping took place when I saw that. If the aim is to start the cooking process with a quick method, and then continue with slow cooking, then the microwave is ideal. I haven’t tried it myself yet, so if you do please let me know what you think! Apparently the meatballs need about 4-6 minutes. Apart from speedy prep, another perk with this trick is that the meat will probably render its fat while being zapped, so if you get rid of that before they go in the slow cooker, your end result is going to be somewhat lighter.
The below amounts made 12 meatballs and the sauce ingredients are for the full recipe. I used 6 meatballs for our dinner (with half the sauce amounts) and saved the rest in the freezer for another day. These babies are best enjoyed with pasta, rice, or mashed potatoes. Or you could go all healthy on me and serve them with quinoa. They’ll be lovely whatever they’re paired with.
Important: Do not use defrosted minced meat if you are using the freezer method. You must never re-freeze anything that has already been frozen once. You can only do that if you fully cook it before re-freezing.