Easy Smoked Meat Balls & Spaghetti Sauce: Recipes & Q-view

Discussion in 'Beef' started by forluvofsmoke, Feb 5, 2011.

  1. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hi everyone! I decided that it would be a good day to mix things up a bit with a little smoke to go along with some stove-top cooking, just to give you all some ideas for those wicked cold winter days for shorter smokes to help you get your smokin' fix without spending all day and half the night (or vice-versa) out in the weather. So, to pass this on from my kitchen to yours, lets get started, shall we?

    I had another one of my inspirational moments this morning while contemplating which of two choices of meat to cook today for the family: chicken drums, and ground beef. Hmm, we just had chicken a couple nights ago, and we had my smoked cherry seasoned bacon cheddar mushroom burgers several nights back...hmm, what to do today? Ah-ha! Lets do something Italian! My wife saw me grabbing things from the pantry for sauce and said: that's not gonna make a sauce like mine. I said: you're probably right about that, but this isn't your sauce, or your meat balls...(she doesn't make meat balls very often). She offered to teach me how to make her sauce, but I wanted to go rogue, and I already had my recipe ready and was set to go, mind and materials.

    Anyway, this was another one of my spur of the moment creations which was I knew would be a hit, so I couldn't keep it from all my friends here at SMF.


    ***I will tell you there is a severe drool factor coming up in several portions of this post, so keep that in mind as you scroll down the page...***


    That said, it's time for another journey!


    SMOKED ITALIAN MEAT BALLS

    ***seasoning is for 4.5 lbs 85/15 ground chuck***

    3 Tbls ground onion

    3 Tbls ground red bell pepper

    1.5 Tbls ground green bell pepper

    2 Tbls ground sweet basil

    2 tsp ground oregano

    2 tsp ground thyme

    1 Tbls ground garlic

    1.5 Tbls ground black peppercorn

    1.5 tsp iodized table salt

    1 package saltine crackers, crumbed in food processor

    Mix all ingredients with meat by hand in a large non-reactive bowl. I prefer to use powder-free latex gloves with this much human meat contact.

    Form into 1-1/2" - 2" tightly packed balls and smoke @ 225* for 2.5-3.0 hours or just until they reach a very firm texture when squeezed with a tong. They should have formed small puddles of red meat juices on top before this point, indicating the centers are heating through. Don't over-do the squeeze test...you don't want to loose those precious juices.


    SPAGHETTI SAUCE

    ***for above meat balls***

    3 - 14.5oz cans peeled tomatoes

    2 - 8oz cans tomato sauce

    1 Tbls sweet basil leaves

    3 - 6.5oz cans button mushrooms, pieces and stems, drained

    2 tsp oregano

    2 Tbls minced dried garlic

    2 tsp ground black peppercorn

    4 Tbls dried red bell pepper, approx 3/8" dice

    2 Tbls dried green bell pepper, approx 3/8" dice

    1/2 cup dried chopped onion

    ***note: no added salt in the sauce due to using canned base ingredients,
    and 1 medium fresh onion and a med/lg whole head of minced garlic may be
    substituted for the dried by sauteing in 2 Tbls olive oil until
    translucent, then adding all other ingredients to simmer***

    Combine all ingredients and simmer in large covered stock pot for at least
    2 hours while gently stirring occasionally.

    Mash tomatoes down a bit to partially break them up, then add smoked meat
    balls while hot from the smoker and continue to simmer covered for 60-90
    minutes, stirring occasionally. This is the melding stage where some of
    the smoked flavors of the meat will blend into the sauce while the sauce reduces slightly.

    Serve over spaghetti pasta topped with grated parmesan and/or mozzarella cheese.


    Here we go!

    Spices are measured-up and ready to grind:

    [​IMG]

    Ground, tumble blended and ready to mix with ground beef:

    [​IMG]

    Crumbing the saltines...my wife's 450 watt 12-cup rig:

    [​IMG]

    That took about 15 seconds...a very small amount for this large processor:

    [​IMG]

    Meat mix is ready:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    To the smoker, shall we? Not much of a load for the Smoke Vault 24, but I gave me something to smoke today:

    [​IMG]

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    Hickory is my smoke of choice for most of my beef, and this will be no exception. 


    Time to get the sauce started...all dry ingredients in a 8-qt non-stick stock pot:

    [​IMG]

    And with the wet/canned, all mixed up and slowly heating through:

    [​IMG]

    Meat balls are smoked and time for a final inspection before dropping into the pot. I took one a cut it open just to see moisture content and how my smoke came through...nice...of course, that sliced meat ball never saw the sauce pot...yummy!!!:

    [​IMG]

    Hmm, got a bit of smoke ring going on here, too:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    ***Now, I must warn you...this is your last chance to slide your keyboard tray in under your desktop, and don't forget some napkins***

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    My pride and joy for the day...3 meatballs and sauce over pasta, topped with freshly grated mozzarella...that's all I needed:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

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    [​IMG]


    That was scrumptious! And, for anyone who is having reservations about trying this, trust me, I'm not a hugely serious stovetop cook. But today, I pulled all the stops and just went with the flow...it was a great experience to put it all together, and the meal was a big hit. My wife was still commenting about it 30 minutes into savoring her plate. The kids always love to eat my smoked/grill foods, and today, they seemed a bit impressed that I would attempt something on this scale, but it really isn't difficult. Oh, and I'm no stranger to pasta cooking...it's all by touch and chew...keep sampling it when you think it may be getting close and get it out and drained before it's overcooked...you'll be in pasta heaven every time!

    I could have went with all fresh ingredients for the sauce, but that adds quite a bit of prep time with the reward of an even better texture and taste of the sauce, but I opted to dodge that route and keep things a bit simpler, at least for this first time around. Besides, I like the KISS method when possible...hence the word "easy" in the thread title.

    The smoke flavor from the meatballs was not overwhelming, which I wasn't overly concerned about, but wanted you to know. The sauce was pretty darn tasty for a first-run recipe from a green-horn italian cook. The seasonings in the meat mix were very mild and subtle, just the way I wanted it to be. Beefy, smoky, with a good hint of where it was all going before you finished chewing the first bite. Nothing harsh or any spicy heat...a keeper, IMO.

    Hope you all enjoyed reading and drooling, and most importantly, are wanting to give it a try on these cold winter days!

    Great smokes to all, and to all a good night!

    Eric
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2011
    les3176, tulsajeff and callahan4life like this.
  2. les3176

    les3176 Master of the Pit

    Sounds awesome as normal...Great job!!! makes my spaghetti look like ketchup and noodles!!!lol
     
  3. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Another great post Eric! Just one more for the todo list. Thanks for sharing!   [​IMG]
     
  4. sumosmoke

    sumosmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Totally digging that recipe, and all of the pictures!! Thanks so much for sharing, my Italian family will have to try this! [​IMG]
     
  5. porked

    porked Smoking Fanatic

    OMG that looks good! You are killing me! You sir, are one remarkable poster. Thanks for all your effort and appreciate all your posts and pics. [​IMG][​IMG]
     
  6. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Fl
    AAAWWWWEEESSSOOMMMEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!

     Have a great day!!

      Craig
     
  7. rdknb

    rdknb Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Man that looks and sounds wonderdul, thank you for shareing 
     
  8. nwdave

    nwdave Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    [​IMG]
     
  9. realtorterry

    realtorterry Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Man now that's a plate on itialian smokey goodness!!
     
  10. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    Darn that looks great. [​IMG]
     
  11. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Wow! I finally got a chance to get caught up with a few things today, this being one of them. A busy smoker is a happy smoker!

     
    Thanks Les! A little imagination goes a long way, brother.
     


    Thanks Al, and you're welcome! Hate to make your list get bigger, but...well, no I don't! LOL!!!!! A long to-do list in the world of smoking is a good thing!
     


    Thanks, sister smoker! Ooooh, if they do try it, ask them how they liked it. I'd be interested in a review from someone who knows their regional flavors, but then, this wouldn't exactly fall into a common category, being smoked. Just a thought...IMO, these are pretty basic italian seasoning blends, but with some adjustments and/or additions, it could go pretty far for those who are really into the finer italian dining.

    BTW, you're most welcome, Laurel!


    Thanks-you, I do have a few gifts, and creating and sharing something like this with you all is one of them.
     


    Thanks, Craig! I sure did have a great day...hope you did too!
     



     You're welcome. It is pretty tasty, and a great way to get some smoke into a meal without making an all-day event out of it.
    Jeez...speechless? I'll try not to do that anymore...LOL! Was it the melting mozzarella over the top of everything? I did wait a minute or so before grabbing the digi-cam for plated pics...man, I guess that was a down-right mean thing to do...[​IMG]


     
    Thanks, Terry! Goodness that went all the way...


    Aaaaaah, man, if only we had smoke deliveries through PM's...I could put something onto those utensils you're holding...LOL!!!!!

    Thanks all! Great doing smoke with ya...love every minute of it!

    Eric
     
     
  12. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Damn... that money shot needs to be in your family album or something

    Great job
     
  13. I love the little smoke ring on the meatballs. 
     
  14. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Eric---That stuff is AWESOME!

    Bear
     
  15. Hats off to ya... awesome job! I love smoked meatballs, but you took it to a whole other level! nice work!
     
  16. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    WOW, That looks good...  Nice Job Eric...
     
  17. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Thanks! Oh, I don't know, I guess I know where I can find the pics if I want to share them while I'm on the road. Just fire up the blackberry and viola!
     


    That does look cute, doesn't it?
     



     Thanks, Bear! Not quite like your prime rib, but...dang, I keep forgetting to check yours out! I saw it surface twice and got side tracked. I gotta do that before I do eyelid inspections tonight.
    Thansk, Steve! Just another fun day playing with ideas...but, how the heck does it all come out like this? Sometimes I don't know, but I'm not about to complain about that! LOL!!!
     
    Thanks Paul, if italian is one of your weaknesses (...[​IMG]...) like it is for me, well, this will get you a fix.
     


    Geez, I just scrolled back through these pics and everyone's posts...yeah, that was some good fun and great eats! I figured I owed you all one for what I've learned while hangin' with ya here! Well, OK, I probably caught up on that a couple years ago, but hey, why stop?!?!? LOL!!!

    Thanks again everyone!

    Eric
     
  18. cycletrash

    cycletrash Meat Mopper

    I bet there was no left overs
     
  19. arnie

    arnie Smoking Fanatic

    [​IMG]   AWESOME! My to do list is starting to get away from me.
     
  20. squirrel

    squirrel Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Eric! Dude, that looks so amazing. I must be trying it real soon. Love your posts!
     

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