Monday, April 22, 2013

Meatless Meatballs! Celebrating the Magical Meatiness of Mushrooms on Earth Day

I’ve wanted to turn our famous veggie burger recipe into a meatless meatballs recipe for a long time now, and figured there would be no more appropriate occasion than Earth Day to reveal the results. After all, as I joke about in the clip, eating mushrooms is about as close to literally consuming the earth as you can get.

Despite being completely free of meat, at least the animal kind, these “meatballs” were fantastic. Thanks to a thorough browning, the mushrooms provided more than enough savoriness, and the garlic, cheese, and parsley did the rest. As impressive as I thought the taste was, what really blew me away was how close the texture was to actual meatballs.

For me, the true test of any alternative meatless recipe is whether I would eat it again, based on taste and texture alone, and not just because it’s meatless. In this case, I would…many times over. No, I’m not giving up real meatballs, but for a delicious and vegetarian-friendly change of pace, these really were tremendous.

So, whether you're going to make these because you’re a vegetarian who has been searching for a meatless version, or you’re a hard-core meat eater who just can’t believe your ears and eyes, I hope you give these a try soon. Have a happy Earth Day, and as always, enjoy!


Ingredients for 16 small meatballs:
(recipe can easily be doubled!)
1 pound white mushrooms, chopped into very small pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt to sauté mushrooms
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup minced onions
4 minced garlic cloves
1/2 cup instant oatmeal
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
packed 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1 ounce by weight, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, very finely grated on a microplane
(Note: it looks like a ton of cheese in the video, but it was only 1-oz. Because I used a microplane to grate it, it created a huge looking pile of cheese. It would be about 1/2 cup if you measure, but use weight for this ingredient!)
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper and cayenne to taste
pinch of dried oregano
2 eggs
3 cups of your favorite pasta sauce.
*Let mixture sit overnight in fridge. Bake meatballs for 12-15 at 450 degrees F., then simmer in sauce for 30-60 minutes before serving.

View the complete recipe

72 comments:

Krista said...

For a gluten free meatball, can I use 1 cup of the oats instead of 1/2 oats, 1/2 breadcrumbs?

Chef John said...

Sorry, not sure!

Karmar Phillips said...

Big fan here in Louisiana can you do some spicy seafood?

Karmar Phillips said...

Hey big fan here in Louisiana.Can you something really nice and spicy?

Libby said...

Can't wait to try these...as sliders. They look delicious.

piprod01 said...

Is it possible to get a more intense meaty taste by adding milk powder to the mushrooms while cooking them?

I hear meaty tastes are due to the Maillard reaction with proteins at cooking temperature and I've seen people use skimmed milk powder before because of the high protein content.

joymama said...

Yay! Soy free!! I'll make them soon.

WenDee said...

Oh gosh--this looks amaze-balls and I want to pin it?!? However it won't let me because it won't show a picture? Would u care to check and c if there is a problem with the pic associated with this recipe?!?!
Thanks--

Chef John said...

Sorry, not sure what you mean! The pictures are placed in the only way I know how in Blogger.

Chef John said...

piprod01, I've never used it! Would have to try.

eatgreatbegreat said...

These look wonderful! Look forward to giving them a try!

Aaron said...

Substituting mushrooms for meat is like subbing kindness for love...

Roberto said...

Simulated meat.....hmmm. That hasn't caught on yet here in Italy perhaps because we can still buy genuine meat in actual butcher shops. Even tiny villages have good butchers.

At the moment I'm working on my TOFU-LESS GRILLED TOFU alla FIORENTINE recipe. I'm starting with a beautiful one kilo T-bone steak from Chianina beef.

Unfortunately I can't quite get the beef to have that bland yet horrible taste of real tofu and I haven't been able to duplicate that creepy gelatinous mouth-feel of tofu either.

Maybe trying to fool Mother Nature isn't such a good idea.

Julia said...

I have some leftover portabellas in the fridge, would they work for this?

Chef John said...

sure, but scrape out the gills!

BenBarefoot said...

Awesome! I just went to the store on saturday, and I have all these things. Even better tomorrow night is Spaghetti night! (I made that up. It's not really a thing.) I just sent you an Email for another food wish of mine. I feel that your Cajun Ragu was pointed at request. And it really was more of a food demand, or food death threat. Sorry, that's what happens when I'm cravin cajun.

I'm getting more accustomed to this blog format, so I did the decent thing and sent it to your email. I hope makes it your way. This is the most entertaining site on the internet; Fact! I check daily for the new recipes, and humor.

Joe P. said...

Hi Chef John. I have tried many of your recipes and am pleased to say that I have yet to find one I don't like. Thanks for all your hard work, I hope you never run out of ideas.

On a side note, I happen to be a vegetarian and don't understand all the comments from people about "don't try to fool mother nature" or "creepy gelatinous mouth feel". We all enjoy different foods and if you find some thing you don't I believe Chef has about 800 other options for you to try. So to quote a wise man "Enjoy".

Joe P. said...

Hi Chef John. I have tried many of your recipes and am pleased to say that I have yet to find one I don't like. Thanks for all your hard work, I hope you never run out of ideas.

On a side note, I happen to be a vegetarian and don't understand all the comments from people about "don't try to fool mother nature" or "creepy gelatinous mouth-feel". We all enjoy different foods and if you find some thing you don't I believe Chef has about 800 other options for you to try. So to quote a wise man "Enjoy".

k0w1 said...

What Pasta sauce recipe did you use here? I've searched your blog and videos but can't find one, apart from the roasted tomato sauce recipe.

Cannot wait to try it out.

Peace, from the UK

Feargus said...

Chef John! You don't seem to have mentioned that parmesan is not vegetarian as it contains Calf Rennet!

Chef John said...

I can't pretend to be concerned about the rennet!

Sick Vans Blog said...

I'm not going to make these, and I absolutely knew that even before I hit play (because, well, meat...mmmm, meat), but I STILL watched this video to the end.

This is a testament to the quality of your videos--I'll watch them even when I'm not interested in the final product.

dz.m.ziv said...

thank you chef john! do the quick cook oats make much of a difference? would regular oats be fine?

Chef John said...

regular rolled oats should be fine, but not steel-cut!

Chef John said...

i just used a jar of Barilla! Search for "tomato sauce" we have others!

bernice beckson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
blogagog said...

I don't like mushrooms. Can I use ground beef instead?

Jaz said...

Chef John I did a little happy dance when I saw the title of this recipe, and now that I've watched it I'm drooling and can't wait to make them!!! I'm used to subbing out meat in recipes, so nice to have one now and then I can make as directed. Kudos to you for the earth day shout out, and keep up the fantastic work!

Olgalii. said...

the mixture is resting in my fridge just now, have still some hours to go - but it sure smells fantastic.
i've loved every recipe i've tried yet. this one is perfect for my "vegi-day" once a week (or once every two weeks).
btw, i'm a meat-eater and still love tofu. and soy. depends on how you cook it, whether it tastes good or tastes really weird with a disgusting texture. but y'know, asians just KNOW how to cook tofu :P

Senan bletcher said...

Thank for this and for the meatless burger. I trying a low meat diet to help my health and this was amazing. Cant wait for the next

Rev. S said...

my only problem with this recipe is that i have to what to sit overnight. I want to eat it now :3
thankyou chef for this vegetarian variation :D

WoundedEgo said...

This looks so awesome and I can't wait to try it. However, in your video you said "a couple of pounds of mushrooms" while your recipe says "one pound". Were you cooking a double batch? Or is the recipe incorrect?

Thanks!

Chef John said...

Yes, meant couple of packages. The 1 pound is correct!

WoundedEgo said...

Great, thanks. You're amazing. Your recipes and the presentation are ***** quality. Thanks so much!

WoundedEgo said...

At some point, maybe you could elaborate on how all of this fantastic cooking advice translates into paying the bills! I have some out of work geniuses who need a pointer or two!

Ting's Desolace said...

I would like to say that this recipe is the best meatless balls I have ever made. First time tried, it was a success! Thank you Chef John for sharing!

Naeem Akhtar said...

Great recipe. The only thing that it came a little chewy. Any pointer why they came out chewy (to much cheese or oat meal?). I halved everything.

WatchLearnEat! said...

I absolutely love this recipe! Being that I don't eat beef, I find myself always using turkey for everything but I would love to try other ingredients. I can't wait to try this!

scrappy jax said...

Going grocery shopping this weekend and will be buying the ingredients to make this! So excited to try it out! If I make a double batch can I freeze them?

Chef John said...

Sorry, never tried to freeze!

WoundedEgo said...

@Naeem, I would be more suspicious of the oatmeal than the cheese, but my guess would be that you might have cooked them a tad too long.

Craig said...

Krista: you can make oatmeal "flour" in your blender to use in place of the breadcrumbs. I do this all the time for a gluten free substitution.

Naeem Akhtar said...

@WondedEgo, I wonder why *tad to long* results in being chewy. But I will try again this weekend.

Erica Throne said...

I made a half-batch of these for my dinner tonight and they turned out delicious! Though I think I slipped up and added a touch too much salt somewhere. Salted butter, salty cheese, salt on the shrooms... It added up. I had to use dried parsley as well and, being the impatient/slap-dash kind of cook, I didn't let these sit before baking. They really became super meaty after they simmered in the sauce though! Thanks for these! I missed meatballs so much.

WoundedEgo said...

Okay, well I made my first batch today. Unlike the experience of some, mine were not the least bit mealy. In fact, they were much more tender than a "ground up cow". Perhaps it was because I made mine slightly larger than Chef John's (I only got 12, not 16). And when I baked them in the oven I was conservative, knowing that they still would cook in the sauce. At any rate, perfect meatballs. For my sauce I just used fresh tomatoes with basil, garlic and salt. I wished I would have had some wine, but the whole thing was great, and I used whole wheat pasta.

Chef John is my hero because of this recipe and also his cauliflour alfredo and Kung Wow Chicken!

eirrac said...

Hi Chef John,
Can I bake the meatless meatballs the cool and keep them in freezer until I need them? Same for the tomato sauce? Thanks in advance.
Cheers,
Carrie

Chef John said...

Sauce yes, but never tried to freeze the meatballs, so not sure, but probably. Enjoy!

cin said...

These were sooo good! My 11 year old loved them! They great just plain. But even better in the sauce with spaghetti. I will make again. Thanks Chef John! Hope we can get more veggie friendly recipes!!

Mara D. said...

Thank you so much for a delicious vegetarian recipe. I'd rather have this than factory farmed meat.

Godzilaw said...

I made these last week - fantastic! My kids gobbled them up - can't wait to make them again - thanks for the great recipe!

ShuffleCat said...

I'll be giving this a go soon for my partner who became vegetarian in the past year. Thanks for a great way of preparing a classic meal :)

FoodYum1234 said...

Can i substitute something for the cheese? something not dairy?

FoodYum1234 said...

lol sorry for the repeated messages. ooops accident! lol :). YOU ROCK!

Chef John said...

There is no sub for Parmesan! Sorry!

Kevin Decker said...

My meatballs fell apart. I ended up with meatless meat sauce. So sad :(

Tanya said...

These mushroom balls were fantastic. My family is newly vegetarian and hubby and the kids are still suspicious of any kind of meat substitute...but they gobbled up these yummy balls. Thanks!

WoundedEgo said...

While these meatballs were extremely comforting they still fell short of Chef John's comforting voice...

jenn said...

Omg these came out amazing!!! My boyfriend literally bowed down to me. Lol. They taste like the real deal. I didn't have breadcrumbs so I just added a little more of the oats. I also used Italian seasoning instead of the parsley. Also i didn't use any measurements just eyeballed everything. Next time I make these will be for a meatball parm sandwich. Seriously can't wait!

Tirapong Wajiraprechapong said...

Hi chef john,
Could you recommend some alternatives to White mushroom? I live in Thailand and it's a bit difficult to get a hand on ones here~ but still want that meaty flavor!

Chef John said...

Sorry, but I have no idea what mushrooms you have access to! Anything should work!

cook it JZ said...

These came out amazing! Thanks for sharing a great meatless recipe :)

PS- love your videos!!!

Angie M said...

Hi I have these in the fridge ready to roll, but did get confused with the measurements. On the video you use 2 lbs. mushrooms, 2 eggs. The written portion says 1 lb. mushrooms, 2 eggs, but can be doubled ... Maybe the 1 lb. mushrooms was an error and should have read 2?
Either way, just wondering so if I made them again I can be sure, I made the oven roasted tomato sauce to go with them, will follow up with the full results! Love your recipes, and your videos!!

Chef John said...

I think I misspoke in the video, since it looks like I use a pound in the video. Thanks!

Angie M said...

Thanks, I get what happened now, I ended up using a little too much dry ingredients and an extra egg, but they were still very meaty in texture and appearance. I will definitely make these again, and use this method for vegetarian burgers as well, they are similar but I think this method makes them meatier!

Angie M said...

Update - I made a meatball sub from the leftovers today, delish!!
This is the only fake meat recipe I've ever tried and truly liked. I'm going to play around with it and add some beans and things, hope I don't ruin a good thing!

Chef John said...

thanks for the report!

Mjc1914 said...

Hi Chef John,

I am not a fan of mushroom at all, but I have watched this video 5 times and for some reason Need to make these.

My friends are all going to our annual weekend cabin getaway (unfortunately I have to work but I can't not make something). If I were to make these for them to take, will they be okay to sit in the sauce for a day?

Thank you in advance, and for all the inspiration.

M

Angie M said...

I froze some of these and they were quite soft after defrosting and heating. I still liked them though and would freeze them again, maybe even crumble them up in tomato sauce to make a meatless meat sauce!

Mitzi said...

I made these to serve a family of vegetarians and a family of omnivorous. I used your tomato sauce. Every single person (kids included) was truly blown away. The meatballs and the sauce really were amazing. I also made homemade pasta, but that's another story. I'm trying to think of I changed anything in the meatballs... The only thing I did a bit differently was to chop the mushrooms in my food processor to create a more ground texture rather than chopped. I didn't really mean to, but that's how it turned out. It made browning a bit more challenging because the visual isn't a clue to when you've arrived at the c correct browning point. Instead, an aroma emits from the mushrooms that tells you is absorbed perfect. And it was. Thanks again, Chef. I can always count on you!

Steven Mon said...

Good grief these were delicious! If I hadn't made these myself I would not have known these were meatless. I will look up your meatless burger recipe and try that out now!

Lacy Kleinfeldt said...

Do you know how long the final cooked product is good for? Being refridgerated? Thanks

Virginia Hoffman said...

Chef John your videos are great your humor is even better, I tried this recipe, we eat mostly plant based so I tried this recipe, worked great and my hubby who is a real meat ball freak loved was very satisfied with them. Did not have oat meal on hand so I substituted finely ground flax seed. First you soak it in water makes a nice binder.