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Meatballs are the perfect fall comfort food. Easy to modify to your family’s own particular tastes — whether they like them with a mix of pork and lamb or all beef, or you want to add in veggies or a hint of spice — meatballs are a hearty, comforting food that deserving a starring role at your dinner table.
Baking your meatballs instead of braising them means that you can save yourself a bit of mess from sputtering oil, but it can also mean that your sauce will miss out on all the yummy drippings from your choice of meat. That’s why we love this one-dish trick for baking meatballs from RecipeTin Eats.
Food blogger Nagi Maehashi shared her ingenious idea for baking meatballs on top of your sauce with the help of a wire rack placed atop a deep-rimmed baking sheet. Maehashi says that she first started to use this rack method because she wanted to start baking her meatballs but didn’t want to lose the drippings from when she made them on the stovetop.
Yet with this method, all those drippings end up right in your sauce, which is bubbling along happily right under your meatballs as they bake.
How clever is that? Plus you’re only using one pan instead of two, and since you’re not frying your meatballs in oil, they’re a bit healthier for you as well. Maehashi says there’s another benefit: the sauce steams the meatballs, ensuring they don’t dry out while baking.
You can use a pan like this Classic Cuisine meatball roasting pan from Amazon, or use your favorite wire rack atop a Pyrex baking dish or something similar. Just make sure it fits snugly so you don’t lose any precious meatballs to the bottom of your oven.
Maehashi also advises against using breadcrumbs. Contrary to traditional advice, she says she prefers to use fresh bread, and to soak it in onion juice. This helps the meatballs puff up and makes them extra fluffy, and the onion juice gives it a savory depth (as opposed to the traditional milk soaking method).
Ready to try them? You’ll want to read the full recipe for her oven-baked Italian meatballs before you get started.