I would like to ask my cardiologist to forgive me for what I am about to do …
When ever you see a show about ‘extreme’ cuisine, or read an article about the ultimate (Insert Food Item Here), there is a pretty good chance that the ‘extreme’ item will include some bacon. Bacon has reached almost mythical status in the food world. Its presence in a recipe can create instant appeal and desirability. So, while I was contemplating how to incorporate bacon into a hamburger recipe, creating my own version of an ‘extreme ‘ burger I saw on television, I wondered what a bacon meatball would taste like. I love a challenge!
These are, bar none, the best meatballs I have ever had. Ever. The ratio of bacon to other ground meats, in this case ground chuck and ground pork, is about 40/60. I did not use any fillers such as bread crumbs or rice, and there are no vegetables hiding in these meatballs. What you have here is all meat, a little spice and one egg to help hold it together. The most important advice I can give you is to use a light touch when mixing. Overworking the meats will result in tough meatballs, but if you don’t over-mix or compress the meatballs too much you will have tender, juicy, instantly addictive carnivore pleasure. These make an insanely good meatball sub*, paired with some spicy tomato sauce on a toasted garlic roll, which is how I used them up!
- 1 pound hardwood smoked bacon
- 12 ounces ground beef, 80/20 preferred
- 8 ounces ground pork
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons dry oregano
- ½ teaspoon ground fennel
- ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- ½ teaspoon, or more to taste, crushed red pepper
- 1 egg
- Begin by preparing the bacon.
- Cut the bacon into 1-inch pieces and place into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the bacon until it is evenly ground and no large chunks of bacon remain.
- In a large bowl combine the bacon with the remaining ingredients. Mix gently until evenly combined. Scoop the meatballs into 1½-inch balls, making sure not to compress the balls while shaping. Place on a parchment lined pan and chill, uncovered, for at least two hours.
- Heat the oven to 400F. Once the meatballs are chilled heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, add the meatballs and brown thoroughly on all sides. Transfer to a baking sheet until the rest of the meatballs are browned.
- Bake the meatballs until the meatballs reach an internal temperature of 160 F, about 10 to 15 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.
*To make these meatballs a sub you will need the following:
- For the sauce I used the sauce recipe found here with 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel, 1/2 teaspoon dry oregano, 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon dry thyme added.
- For the rolls melt 2 teaspoons of butter per roll with 1/2 clove fresh minced garlic. Brush the butter on each half of the roll and toast until golden.
- I added a little shredded mozzarella cheese, too. Enjoy!