Looking for back to school comfort food that the entire family will love, well, unless they are vegetarians, gluten and/or dairy free? Then, my big easy meatballs and red gravy over Idaho® mashed potatoes must be on your list of weekly recipes, and can also be adapted to fit your family’s nutritional needs. Make a double batch as the potatoes, sauce and meatballs will freeze easily for when you are really in a bind, and need a great meal on the fly. The meatball recipe is a quick take on a old New Orleans family recipe, thus the ‘big easy’ name, though they are really simple to prepare. I’m excited to be working with the Idaho® Potato Commission as a blogger on this recipe project, with two more recipes to follow. Stay tuned by subscribing in the top right box on my home page, and check out the other recipes at Idaho® Potatoes. With Idaho’s ideal growing conditions – the rich volcanic soil, climate and irrigation – Idaho® potatoes differentiate in great quality and taste from potatoes grown in other states, not to mention each serving is packed with Vitamin C, B6, fiber and potassium! There are 25 other potato varieties grown in Idaho including: Yukon Golds, Reds and Fingerlings, but I used Russet’s in my recipe.
Big Easy Meatballs & Red Gravy over Creamy Idaho® Mashed Potatoes
Creamy Mashed Idaho® Potatoes
8 large Idaho® potatoes, peeled and chopped into 2 inch cubes
1 stick unsalted butter
1-cup skim milk
4 ounces cream cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound lean ground beef
1-pound Italian sausage
½ cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
3 fresh garlic cloves, minced
1-teaspoon sea salt
1-teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1-teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil (for frying)
Red Gravy Ingredients:
2 tablespoons good quality extra-virgin olive oil
3 fresh garlic cloves minced
2 bay leaves
1 cup finely chopped onion
1-cup low sodium chicken stock
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (San Marzano if possible)
2 teaspoons salt
1-teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (reserved for final garnish)
Creamy Idaho®Potato Directions:
1. Begin with the red gravy, as it takes the longest to simmer. Next boil the Idaho® potatoes until fork tender, about 15 minutes. While the water boils and when the potatoes are cooking, you can be working on the meatballs.
2. When the potatoes are tender, drain and return them to the warm pot to let them dry out for a few minutes.
3. Add in the cream cheese and smash with a potato masher until the cheese melts into the potatoes. Mash potatoes with skim milk, then stir while seasoning with salt and pepper.
1. In a large bowl, add all the meatball ingredients (excluding the olive oil), and mix well using your clean hands. Shape into 3-inch meatballs.
2. Add the olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium to high heat.
3. Add meatballs and cook on all sides until golden brown. If you’re using a large skillet all meatballs should fit in one batch otherwise, you might have to fry them in a couple batches.
4. Remove meatballs from the skillet and set aside on paper towels to drain any excess oil. The meatballs will be added to the sauce in the last 20 minutes of cooking.
Red Gravy Directions:
1. Add the olive oil and onions to a sauté pan (could be the same as the meatball pan) set over medium heat until and cook onions until translucent, but do not burn.
2. Add garlic and cook 2 more minutes, do not burn.
3. Add the bay leaf and remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer; reduce heat to maintain a low simmer, and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
4. In the last 20 minutes of simmering, add the meatballs to the pan to heat through. Remove the bay leaves before serving. Serve meatballs and red gravy over the creamy Idaho® mashed potatoes, and top with grated Parmesan, for a back to school comfort dish that kids of all ages will love.
Tip: Peel, cut and boil extra Idaho® potatoes. Set aside to cool. Place Idaho® potatoes in a tightly sealed plastic freezer bag, and put in the freezer for the next time you need to make the best Idaho® mashed potatoes in a flash.
Estimated Nutritional Analysis
Serving size: 2 meatballs, red gravy and mashed Idaho® potatoes Calories: 525 Fat: 21.6g Saturated fat: 9.9g Unsaturated fat: 0.0g Trans fat: 0.0g Carbohydrates: 49.3g Sugar: 7.4g Sodium: 727mg Fiber: 8.3g Protein: 34.2g Cholesterol: 126mg