Slow cooker meatballs & gravy

Weather is turning colder here. That means comfort food, and this is one of our favorites.  The slow cooker is my friend, especially in cold weather. It’s hard to beat the all-day smell of something delicious cooking in the pot for supper. This is about the only recipe I make that uses anything canned, in this case condensed cream soup. I could probably make my own sauce to substitute for it but have never taken the time to figure that out, and frankly this is so good as is, would it be worth it? But if you wanted, you could sauté onions, garlic, and mushrooms in 4 tablespoons butter till soft and golden, toss in a couple of tablespoons of flour and cook for a few minutes, add a cup of milk or broth, cook and stir till thick, and you’d have a pretty good sauce.

One unique ingredient in the sauce here is a little strong coffee. Even if you’re not a coffee lover you should add it for the extra little kick of flavor and color. Start by mixing and baking the meatballs. While they’re in the oven you can put all the gravy ingredients into the slow cooker and stir well. Set the temperature of the cooker to low and add the meatballs when they’re browned. The meat can be all beef, or any combination of ground turkey, ground pork, or ground lamb. We like the turkey/pork combo. I’ve used all ground turkey but the flavor is a bit dull. Some fat in the meat is needed for best flavor. Mix all the meatball ingredients together with your hands and shape into small balls. A #40 scoop will give you about 20 meatballs (each 1-1¼” across) from 1½ pounds of ground meat. Browning them before adding to the slow cooker is an important step that adds lots of flavor.

– Joan, 27 October 2017

Slow cooker meatballs and gravy

  • Servings: About 20 small meatballs
  • Print

Meatballs:

  • 1½ pounds ground beef, pork, turkey, and or lamb, or any combination
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ½-¾ cup Panko (dried bread crumbs) or 1½ cups fresh bread, torn into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Form small balls, about 1-1¼ inch in diameter, and bake on a broiler pan till browned, about 30 minutes. Pour off accumulated fat, then deglaze pan with a bit of wine or water. Add the pan scrapings and meatballs to the gravy in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Our favorite accompaniments are potatoes and green beans or baked squash.

Gravy:

  • 1 10-ounce can condensed cream of mushroom soup (cream of celery or cream of chicken can be substituted)
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sautéed
  • 1 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon instant coffee or espresso, or up to ¼ cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ¼-½ cup sherry or white wine

 

 

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