Meatballs are likely one of the most perfect foods, especially when cooking on a budget. You get big flavor from little money and you can use them in so many different ways. This batch of meatballs I flavored with caraway, sprinkled with fresh dill and served along with a Greek Tzatziki sauce for dipping.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I love meatloaf. But to save time, I often bypass the loaf pan and make meatballs instead. Let’s face it, meatballs are just miniature, ball-shaped meatloafs. You can get creative with the ingredients and season them any way you like.
Lately, I’ve been addicted to caraway seed mixed with pork and love the flavoring with ground pork.
Caraway Pork Meatballs
1 lb. ground pork
1 tablespoon caraway seed, ground
1/3 cup finely diced red onion
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 beaten egg
1 sleeve unsalted saltine crackers
1/4-1/2 cup milk
Fresh dill for garnish
I’m not too fussy when it comes to meatballs and never measure when making them. So when making the meatballs this time, I forced myself to note the approximate measurements used. Overall, I like to use a combination of egg, milk, and unsalted crackers crumbled finely. This combination yields a moist and tender meatball.
In a large bowl, add all of the ingredients except for the crackers, milk and dill. For the caraway seed, I place it into a mortar and pestle, trying my best to pulverize it. You could also run your knife over the seeds to crack them up. The goal is to break them open so the flavor is released fully into the meat.
Using a strong spoon, I begin stirring everything together until fully combined. I use the back of my spoon to really work over the meat to smooth it out. I like the meatballs to be tender and without any firm bits of meat, taking the time to smooth it out with your spoon is worth the extra few minutes of stirring.
Next, take a handful of crackers and firmly crush with your hands, breaking into fine crumbs. Stir them in and continue this process with the remaining crackers. The meat mixture will be quite thick, so I add 1/4 – 1/2 cup of milk to loosen it up and make it easier to form into balls.
I prefer to use a small scoop to measure out the meat mixture. Using a scoop (or a spoon), measure out even sized meat onto a cutting board. I measure everything out first, then use my hands to roll each lump of meat into a ball.
On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (this will save you so much clean up time later), place the rolled balls. Leave a 1″ space between each ball. Bake in a 375F (190C) oven for 25-35 minutes, depending on the size of your meatballs.
Peter of Kalofagas.ca is my trusty Greek friend, so I relied upon his delicious Tzatziki recipe. The sauce traditionally uses thick Greek-style yogurt into which you mix chopped garlic, dill and diced cucumber. It’s a refreshing and tangy sauce for these meatballs.
Meatball Making Tips
- Bake vs. Fry: Baking doesn’t require watching a frying pan or dealing with grease splatter, so I prefer to pop them into the oven (and they’ll brown nicely too).
- Use Parchment Paper: I grew up mocking Martha Stewart for lining her pans with parchment, but it is such a time saver. The balls slide off the paper without any issue and the baking sheet doesn’t get very dirty, so less washing and scrubbing.
- Get a Scoop: Not only does it help make uniform sized meatballs, it allows your hands to remain cleaner throughout the process.
- Freeze for Later: Make a double batch and freeze up the cooked meatballs for later use. You can put them into your favorite red sauce, toss with pasta, drop onto a salad, reheat for an appetizer, or slide into a sandwich.