TJ’s Italian Style Meatballs

Trader Griotto’s (frozen) Flame Broiled Italian Style Fully Cooked Meatballs

First, let us be completely honest. Are these Trader Joe’s frozen meatballs anywhere as good as my own homemade meatballs (which in all modesty are pretty damn good?) No, of course not. However, making meatballs is kind of a lot of work. So I wanted to try these Trader Joe’s “Meatballs Italian Style” to see if they are any good. We did enjoy eating them with my own tomato sauce for a pretty easy dinner. So these might be worth giving them a try to see what you think. The dish I made with these beef meatballs turned out tasty. Now I made an easy quick sauce, a huge tablespoon of tomato paste, olive oil, garlic, onion, can of diced tomatoes, grated pecorino cheese and basil – a recipe is below). Of course you can just use a bottle of sauce too, lazy bones, thats fine too. I put the meatballs in the sauce and simmered them for 30 minutes to get them flavored from the sauce. They turned out pretty well, my biggest complaint being they had a slightly rubbery texture. Honestly I don’t know if they always do or it was my fault defrost them (or not). I would usually thaw something like this in the fridge overnight as I usually recommend, but this was last minute dinner idea and I thought maybe I could just put the frozen meatballs into the sauce and slowly defrost them on low in the sauce (which the package does kind of say). Is that why they were slightly rubbery? Next time I’ll defrost them slowly and see. Anyway I served the meatballs and sauce and some of that fantastic Country Loaf bread I had found at TJ and we did kind of a “meatball sub” with them which was was actually really tasty. A few night’s later, I made Ziti with the leftover meatballs & sauce which was also very tasty. So my take is these are worth giving a try, either with your own sauce or your favorite TJ sauce. I do suggest doing a proper defrost (put in fridge night before) which I promised myself I will do next time. Also I will brown the thawed meatballs up more in olive oil before adding them to the sauce. Browning meat gives lots of flavor. I recommend one simmer them in sauce for at least a 1/2 hour to absorb flavors. These ITALIAN MEATBALLS were about $4.50 for a 1 lb bag when I got them. FYI – TJ sells other versions of meatballs, one made with Turkey and one Meatless version, all of which you will find in the frozen section.

FAST EASY TOMATO SAUCE and MEATBALLS: Take 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and sauté that in a few tablespoons of olive oil for 30-60 seconds. Add a good amount of sliced garlic and a little diced onion and cook 5 minutes on low stirring occasionally till onions are translucent. Add a can (or two) of Diced Tomato, rinsing out the can with a little water (or wine) to get it all. Simmer on low 45 minutes, with the thawed and browned meatballs. Add Italian Seasoning to taste. Optionally add capers, and some Bomba. When serving, add grated Parmesan, Pecorino, Asiago or Grana and if you have some fresh basil, lovely. Serve with either pasta, gnocchi, or warm fresh Italian bread for a meatball hero.

Despite all these options they list I think the best one would be the thaw in fridge (1/2 day?)

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