Meatballs and Mini Meatloaves

Published on April 30, 2021

The history of meatballs and mini meatloaves is very interesting because they are found in every cuisine all over the world and they are all so different. This is the descriptions of some of them from Wikipedia so you get the idea of how much fun cooks have had creating them the way they like and how popular they are.

To start with, Wikipedia describes a meatball as “ground meat rolled into a small ball, sometimes along with other ingredients, such as bread crumbs, minced onion, eggs, butter, and seasoning. Meatballs are cooked by frying, baking, steaming, or braising in sauce. There are many types of meatballs using different types of meats and spices.”

Dating back to 220 B.C., the Chinese “Four Joy Meatballs” are made with pork, water chestnuts, green onions and seasoned with ginger and simmered in a soy sauce flavored stewing sauce.

“Poume d’oranges, also referred to as pome dorreng and pommedorry, is a characteristic gilded (coated) pork meatball dish from Medieval cuisine that was a part of the food culture during the Middle Ages. The dish was prepared to resemble the color of oranges, which was performed by using an egg yolk glaze. Poume d’oranges dish was often used for courtly English feasts and is listed in Medieval cooking manuscripts. The dish was denoted as pome dorreng on the coronation menu for Henry IV of England.”

“Swedish meatballs [or köttbullar] are traditionally served with gravy, boiled potatoes, lingonberry jam, and sometimes pickled cucumber.”

Spanish meatballs called albondigas are commonly served in a soup with a light tomato broth and vegetables.

In Germany, “a very famous variant of meatballs are Königsberger Klopse, which contain anchovy or salted herring, and are eaten with caper sauce.”

In Italy, meatballs, called polpette, “are generally eaten as a main course, as well as in soup. The main ingredients of an Italian meatball are beef and/or pork and sometimes poultry or sausage, salt, black pepper, chopped garlic, olive oil, Romano cheese, eggs, bread crumbs, and parsley, mixed and rolled by hand to a golf ball size. In the Abruzzo region of Italy, especially in the Province of Teramo, the meatballs are typically the size of marbles and are called polpettine.”

But Italians never eat meatballs with spaghetti. That’s a American meatball dish. We use the Italian recipe for meatballs and serve them on spaghetti with pasta sauce. For a keto or paleo diet, meatballs are served on vegetables like spaghetti squash with pasta sauce.

“In Alsace {France}, meatballs are known as Fleischkiechele. They are made of beef, pork, onions, bacon, eggs, and bread. They are served plain or with cream sauce.”

The Persians have meatballs called kofta that are seasoned with garlic, onion, parsley, oregano, cumin, cinnamon and cloves and served plain. And they also have kibbe, ground beef or lamb and bulgur seasoned with onion, cumin and cinnamon and this mixture is fried or they stuff the mixture into hollowed out whole zucchini and boil them in milk.

Several years ago, someone introduced me to plain meatballs in the shape and size of an elongated egg. At the time I didn’t know this was normal in other countries. For me it was like eating mini meatloaves. I can’t remember what they were seasoned with but they were delicious and I loved the idea and have never forgotten them.

This gyro flavored recipe in this post uses Greek seasonings and has cauliflower rice in it. “In Greece, fried meatballs are called keftédes and usually include within the mix of bread, onions, parsley and mint leaf and often have some rice in them.”

The Mediterranean cuisine has dolmas, a ground lamb and rice mixture with flavored with onions and mint, wrapped in grape leaves and simmered in a tomato sauce.

If you are on a special diet and/or just want something simple, Italian meatballs, Italian Bolognese meatballs, Mediterranean meatballs, Mexican albondigas and Swedish meatballs can all be served plain without any kind of noodle or sauce and steamed dry cauliflower rice can be used in place of the almond flour or bread crumbs that along with eggs is added to meatballs and meatloaf bind them and make them tender. And you can make mini meatballs or mini meatloaves using your favorite American meatloaf recipe and still wrap them with bacon before baking if you want. Or turn your favorite flavored and stuffed burger recipe into meatballs and mini meatloaves by adding eggs and bread or bread substitute.

Rather than a baking sheet or muffin pan, I use a broiling pan, with the bottom lined with foil, that will separate and catch the grease and drippings.

The internet is full of recipes for meatballs and mini meatloaves giving you the start of a huge variety of simple meals that can be ready in your freezer. Change the recipes to suit your dietary needs. Leave the cheese out of recipes if you are on a strict anti-inflammatory diet. Serve the meatballs and mini meatloaves with any kind of salad and/or boiled, steamed, sautéed or roasted vegetables that you think would compliment their unique flavors.

salad and meatballs

Greek Meatballs 1

Ingredients

Instructions

Place cauliflower florets in a food processor and pulse 20 times or until they become small pieces. Cut the red onion into 1″ chunks and place in the food processor and pulse 15 times until it’s minced, being sure to catch it before it gets mushy.

Heat a large skillet, melt the butter and add the onion and cauliflower rice. Cook for 8 minutes stirring often to make sure the mixture doesn’t brown. Cool. Add the spices and salt and pepper to the cauliflower mixture.

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Form into 2 1/2″ meatballs using an ice cream scooper. Bake them in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Or mold them into a shape you like with your fingers and fry them in butter for 8 minutes, or until cooked through, turning them as needed.

Serve with a salad or cooked vegetables. If you are okay with dairy, tzatziti sauce (recipe below) is good with these.

These can be frozen.

ingredients for Greek meatballs
preparing Greek meatballs
preparing Greek meatballs
preparing Greek meatballs
preparing Greek meatballs
uncooked Greek meatballs
cooked Greek meatballs

Greek Meatballs 2

Ingredients

Instructions

Place cauliflower florets in a food processor and pulse 20 times or until they become small pieces. Cut the red onion into 1″ chunks and place in the food processor and pulse 15 times until it’s minced, being sure to catch it before it gets mushy.

Heat a large skillet, melt the butter and add the onion and cauliflower rice. Cook for 8 minutes stirring often to make sure the mixture doesn’t brown. Cool. Add the spices and salt and pepper to the cauliflower mixture.

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Form into 2 1/2″ meatballs using an ice cream scooper. Bake them in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Or mold them into a shape you like with your fingers and fry them in butter for 8 minutes, or until cooked through, turning them as needed.

ingredients for Greek meatballs
preparing Greek meatballs
preparing Greek meatballs
preparing Greek meatballs
uncooked Greek meatballs

Tzatziti Sauce

Ingredients

Instructions

If you want your sauce tighter, use lebne or let the yogurt drain through cheesecloth for 8  hours to reduce water. (You can do this by laying a piece of cheesecloth on a steam basket in a pan, or across the bottom of the top  of a double boiler with holes, spoon yogurt on to cheesecloth, cover and refrigerate.) Add remaining ingredients and let marinade for 30 minutes.