One of the few things I actually look forward to during Chicago winters is using my crock pot more frequently.
I’ve written before about how the crock pot is a central element of winter cooking in my house, but usually by this point in the winter I’ve already cycled through most of my slow cooking repertoire: chili, pulled pork, red beans and rice, chicken stew, etc.
So I’m always excited when I find a new recipe to try in my crock pot. In this case, it’s a very old recipe cooked in a new way: Italian meatballs cooked all day in the crock pot!
I was pleasantly surprised with how flavorful they turned out. Not only did they not fall apart — something I was worried about given the seven hours they cooked — but the flavors of the meatballs leached into the sauce, giving it a complexity and depth of flavor it ordinarily wouldn’t have.
Plus the sauce naturally reduced over time, concentrating the tomato flavor in a very interesting and delicious way. It started to have that intensity that tomato paste has, without the over the top acidity.
I served it over whole wheat spaghetti, but you could use any pasta you like. A quick note: A few years ago when whole wheat pasta first started to appear on the shelves, a lot of it tasted like wet cardboard when it was cooked. Recently, however, the manufacturers must have figured out how to make it more appealing because it now tastes every bit as good as pasta made with white flour, but with much more nutritional value.
Crock Pot Italian Meatballs
3/4 lb ground beef
3/4 lb ground pork
1 small white onion, diced small
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 cup Italian-style dry bread crumbs
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 28-oz jar marinara sauce
1 box whole wheat spaghetti
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1. Preheat oven to 375F. Line sheet pan with foil and spray foil with pan spray. In large mixing bowl, combine the beef, pork, onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, bread crumbs and egg and mix well with your hands. Shape into 24 1-1/2 inch balls. Place on sheet pan and bake 35 minutes.
2. Place meatballs in crock pot. Cover with marinara sauce and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours, stirring occasionally.
3. Cook pasta according to package instructions, drain and return to pot with a little EVOO. To plate, place a heaping pile of pasta in the center of a pasta bowl, then use a kitchen spoon to arrange meatballs and sauce on top. Garnish with parmesan cheese.
Do you make any unusual recipes in your crock pot? Why not share your ideas in the comments section below? And thanks for looking at my blog!
Do you typically use both pork and beef?
Nice recipe, btw.
I always use turkey, so this was a special treat. Italian meatballs are usually made with either beef and pork or beef and veal. That’s what they use at S&T Provisions, anyway!
Nice recipe. My folks used to do meatballs in a pressure cooker.
I usually cover them in sauce and bake them in the oven on a 1/2 sheet.
Baking them works, too. I like to let them absorb some of the sauce, though. Pressure cooker sounds interesting.
Yum! My boyfriend and I just got our first slow cooker together and we need recipes. We both love spaghetti and meatballs…so this will be great on those chilly nights after work! I have been reading your blog for a while…love what you can do on a budget! Looking forward to seeing more! Its because of your blog that I learned how to make the perfect club sammie! =)
Thanks! I’m glad you are enjoying it. I certainly enjoy writing it.
I have done a ton of crock pot recipes and I’ve tried to tag them all, so you should be able to find them by clicking on the keyword on the side. Our crock pot works overtime in the winter!
Thanks for reading my blog!
Love it! I made slow cooked meatballs for my husband for our 1st anniversary many many moons ago 🙂 I’ve however always only used beef but recently found out traditional bolognese includes pork, like yours, so I’m definitely going to give this a go. There’s also something so satisfying about shaping meatballs, don’t you think? It makes cooking meat just that little bIt more fun.
Yes, I agree. Anytime you can make cooking more tactile, I’m for it. I especially like breadmaking.
I like this. It is the best job I ve seen.