Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Meat Lovers Smoky Bacon Meatballs

If these meatballs are wrong, then I don't wanna be right. They say "Everything is better with bacon" and bacon is definitely the star ingredient in this recipe; no cheese, no bread crumbs, nothing green and leafy getting in between you and pure meat lover's heaven. I was actually inspired to make these after receiving a comment from someone who has made the Smoked Gouda Meatballs posted here twice and said they have become one of her favorites. Tina, this one's for you!

Meat Lovers Smoky Bacon Meatballs
Makes approx 30 meatballs

1 lb hardwood smoked bacon, cut into 1" pieces
3/4 lb 80/20 ground beef
1/4 lb hot italian pork sausage
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons smoked spanish paprika
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander or ground fennel
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 egg, lightly beaten


Place the cut bacon in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until it is evenly ground. Place the ground bacon in a large bowl.

Oooh, ground bacon, my new BFF

Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl. Be sure to crush the dried oregano in the palm of your hand or in between your fingers to release it's flavor. Using your hands, gently combine the ingredients. For best results, do not overhandle the mixture. If you don't have Smoked Spanish Parika, any other smoked paprika will do but I recommend the Spanish version (see notes below).

Gently roll into 1 1/2" balls making sure you handle the meat lightly and do not press or pack the meat too tightly.

Place on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Meatballs chillin'

After 2 hours, preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, brown the meatballs on all sides. Place the browned meatballs on a foil lined, rimmed backing sheet.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake approx 15 minutes until the temperature registers 160 degrees. You may still see some pink in the interior of the meatballs due to the bacon but as long as you cook them to the proper temperature, they are done.

Remove from the oven and serve as desired.

I made mine into meatball subs by placing sub rolls brushed with olive oil under the broiler then topping the rolls with provolone cheese, a few of the meatballs and some of our favorite marinara sauce.

You can also make them into sliders by placing one meatball on a toasted slider roll then topping with cheese and warm marinara sauce or serve as an appetizer with a side of warm marinara sauce for dipping.

Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat to the appropriate temperature before serving the leftovers.

Note: This is my favorite Smoked Spanish Paprika. It's from the La Vera region of Spain and has a great smoky flavor. I highly recommend it. You can usually find it for a good price at Home Goods in the gourmet food section.

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