Slow Cooker MeatballsSubmitted by: CHEF_MEG
IntroductionThese aren't your mama's meatballs--they're better! Lean but packed with flavor, they cook all day while you're away. These aren't your mama's meatballs--they're better! Lean but packed with flavor, they cook all day while you're away.
1 large white or yellow onion, quartered
4 garlic cloves
1 red bell pepper, cored and cut in half
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
16 ounces lean ground beef (94% lean)
1 slice whole wheat bread, crust removed and processed into bread crumbs
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 1/2 cups prepared low-sodium marinara sauce, divided
fresh basil or parsley for garnish (optional)
Use a food processor to make quick work of chopping all those veggies. If you don't have one, you can mince them instead. You want the veggies to be finely minced--this will ensure moist but not soggy meatballs.
If cooking longer than five hours, increase the water in the recipe to 3/4 cup.
Coat a large saucepan with cooking spray and place over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for about four minutes, until it starts to soften.
Meanwhile, add the remaining vegetables to the food processor (no need to clean it after chopping the onions) and pulse until they are finely chopped.
Add the veggies to the pan, stir and cook for another four minutes, until their juices start to evaporate. Add the herbs and spices, stir, and remove from heat.
Transfer 1 cup of the vegetables to the food processor and pulse several times. Layer the rest in the bottom of the slow cooker.
Transfer the pureed veggies from the food processor to a medium bowl. Refrigerate for five minutes to cool slightly.
Add the beef, bread crumbs, egg yolk, and one tablespoon of Parmesan cheese to the bowl with the pureed vegetables. Using a fork or slotted spoon, thoroughly mix. Scooping two tablespoons at a time into your hands, roll the meatballs between the palms of your hands.
Place the meatballs into a large microwave-safe dish. Microwave on high for five minutes to release some of the fat (optional).
Pour 1 1/2 cups of the marinara sauce into the bottom of the slow cooker along with 1/2 cup water and stir to combine with the vegetables.
Place the meatballs on top in a single layer. Pour on the rest of the marinara sauce, cover and cook on low for three to five hours. Garnish the cooked meatballs with the remaining Parmesan cheese and herbs.
Serving Size: Makes 4 servings, 3 meatballs per person
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The easiest way to make meatballs is to bake them. Use the broiler pan, cover the bottom with foil, spray the slotted grill & place the meatballs on it. Bake for 30 minutes or so until done. The grease drips out onto the foil - easy cleanup. The meatballs are all moist, and they freeze well. - 8/28/13
I don't understand the vegetables mixed with the marinara in the crockpot? And I wish this was something that wouldn't take forever and dirty a ton of pans in the morning: this is NOT a "before the workday" recipe. Minced veggies and pureed are very different! That will affect the meatball texture. - 8/28/13
The veggies are divided -- only 1 cup of them are puréed to add to the meat mixture. The rest are minced to add to the sauce. I used to steam/purée zucchini and add to spaghetti sauce as a way to sneak veggies into my non-veggie-eating son. He was none the wiser. :-) - 8/28/13
Food safety wise, it's not a good idea to put raw ground meat in a slow cooker. The slow cooker does not heat up fast enough to prevent bacteria growth. It would be best to cook the meatballs in a frying pan on a cookie sheet first and add them to the sauce in the slow cooker afterward. - 5/22/14
I am assuming that the vegies in the crock pot are to combine with the marinara to make the sauce. The vegies are choped first and then cooked slightly. The one cup is then pureed to add to meat.It goes pretty fast and you only have three utinsels to clean. Food Processor,Skillet and Bowl. - 8/28/13
I serve men at a Veteran's Home/church, with spaghetti, Texas toast, dessert, juice, coffee, homemade recipes, and nothing left to take home, but a pauper's portion. I might try, but I don't know why. These men are diabetic, and the pastor/communion helpers, and long time friends want me to visit! - 6/20/13