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Not Your Mother’s Meatballs — for Slow Cookers/Crock pots

slow cooker meatballs

Not Your Mother’s Meatballs! I’ve got a meatball recipe for you today that will become a new family favorite. I’m not going to lie — you’re going to have to dirty up your hands a bit, but you won’t have to wash a frying pan.

Those beautiful meatballs pictured up above? They held their form and browned beautifully all on their own in the crockpot — no pre-browning required.

The Ingredients.
makes 24 golfball-sized meatballs

1/4 cup chopped Italian Parsley
1.5 pounds lean ground beef
4 slices smoked bacon, diced (raw; don’t cook it)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup Panko-style breadcrumbs (I used Kinnikinnick Gluten Free Bread Crumbs)
2 eggs (the eggs pictured are duck eggs! thanks, Grandpa John!)
2 tablespoons dried minced onion flakes
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

additional ingredients:
1 cup flour (I used rice flour)
2 cups chicken broth (can use beef)
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

The Directions.

Use a 6-quart slow cooker. Spray the inside of your cooker with cooking spray, or rub it down with a bit of olive oil (don’t go crazy, just a little glisten) and set aside. In a good-sized mixing bowl, combine the chopped parsley, ground beef, and diced bacon. Add in Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, eggs, and the dried spices. Combine well— I’d use your hands (remove rings, wash appropriately, and all that good stuff that if I had a legal team they’d tell me to include).

After the meat is mixed, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or non-stick foil. Pour 1 cup of flour (I used rice flour) into a shallow dish (pie pan works great).
Roll meat into golfball-sized balls and then lightly dust each meat ball with flour before placing onto the lined cookie sheet. When all the meat is gone, put the whole cookie sheet into the freezer for 1 hour, or until completely frozen. It’s okay to freeze overnight, if you’d like to break this into two days (put in sealed dish/tupperware if freezing for longer).

Once your meatballs are frozen, place them one-by-one (this means don’t dump!) into your lightly greased slow cooker. It’s okay to stack them. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the broth and tomato paste to create a gravy. Pour this evenly over the meatballs. Cover, and cook on low for 5 hours, or until the meatballs have browned and are fully cooked. I cooked the meatballs pictured above on low for 5 hours, then let them sit on warm for another 3 1/2 hours before dinner was served.

Serve alongside pasta or rice, or all on their own. These are filling!

The Verdict.

You will love these. I couldn’t stop taste-testing these throughout the afternoon and kept texting Adam to come home quick because dinner was going to rock.
and it did. I shared the leftovers with my dad who is somewhat of a meatball connoisseur and he *really* liked them. I learned about the flour-and-freezing trick from Pinterest— it worked great, and is such a fantastic technique to keep the meat together. I already knew meatballs didn’t need to be browned in the slow cooker beforehand but dredging them in flour first gives a bit more of a “crusty” texture and thickens the tomato gravy beautifully.

Used with permission by Stephanie O’Dea, NYT best-selling author of the Make it Fast, Cook it Slow cookbooks and A Year of Slow Cooking; stephanieodea.com

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