Potluck Meatballs — The Weekender

By: Marisa McClellan
Potluck Meatballs

Meatballs were not a regular menu item in my childhood home. My mom thought they were overly fussy and opted to make meatloaf or meaty tomato sauce when confronted with a pound of ground beef.

Because meatballs were a rarity for me, of course I longed for them. When I was older and cooking for myself, I added a pair of meatball recipes to my dinnertime rotation.

The first recipe I made was with ground lamb, feta cheese, minced red onion and a splash of red wine vinegar. We eat those meatballs with big green salads topped with roasted peppers and onions.

The second recipe is one my friend Joy invented. It uses ground chicken, ricotta cheese and minced onions, and the resulting meatballs are gloriously tender. I like to eat them over a bed of sauteed kale and topped with buttery marinara sauce.

Even with these two dynamite meatball options at my fingertips, I'm always on the lookout for other options. After all, you just never know when you might hit meatball gold. My latest find is The Pioneer Woman's Potluck Meatballs.

You start with a combination of ground beef, breadcrumbs, onion, parsley and beaten egg. The meatballs are mixed, formed and fried before being set aside so that you can make the sauce in the same pan.

Once the sauce is ready, you settle the meatballs back into the pan and let them simmer until you're ready to serve. They're flavorful and they make for a fantastic meal or potluck contribution. I suggest inviting a few friends over for an impromptu potluck and making a panful for your next Weekender.

Before you start cooking, read these tips:

— This recipe calls for beef, but these could be made just as easily with ground turkey or chicken. The poultry-only folks will thank you.

— I used a 2 tablespoon scoop to portion my meatballs. If your kitchen doesn't run to such things, I highly recommend adding a disher, or cookie scoop, to your toolkit — it takes all the drudgery out of meatball shaping.

— In my kitchen, this recipe translated to 30 meatballs. If I were making it for a potluck, I might double the recipe to ensure there was enough for a gaggle of hungry eaters.

Marisa McClellan is a food writer and canning teacher who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her food (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars. Her second cookbook, Preserving by the Pint: Quick Seasonal Canning for Small Spaces, is now available for preorder.