How A Little Patience Will Set Your Meatballs Apart From The Rest

You've just finished putting your special Italian meatball recipe to the test and boy, do the braised meatballs look delicious. The rich aroma of herbs, spices, and browned meat wafting through your kitchen combined with the sight of the simmering sauce is enough to make anyone's mouth water. But even though you're dying to take a bite, we recommend you don't, at least not immediately. As hard as it may be, exercising a little patience and letting your meaty spheres sit overnight is a great hack for better homemade meatballs.

First, there's the flavor boost. The ingredients you use, from herbs and spices to the meat and breadcrumbs, react individually during cooking to produce various flavors and aromas. A plate of this freshly prepared food results in distinct flavors of each of those individual ingredients. These defined tastes can come across as too sharp, which may interfere with the enjoyment of the dish as a whole. When the meat and gravy cool and then chill together in the refrigerator overnight, the ingredients interact and meld, resulting in a more blended dish where the different tastes combine into one delicious flavor harmony.

Second, reheating meat after an overnight chill in the fridge results in the gummy substance between the cells breaking down further and resulting in a creamier consistency. In addition to the flavor and texture boosts, preparing your meatballs in advance comes with the benefit of reduced workload on the day you're expecting friends and family over for dinner.

How to properly get the most flavor out of overnight meatballs

Just like most foods that are better when reheated the next day, a flavorful overnight meatball dish starts with aromatic ingredients like onions, garlic, herbs, and spices. These elements add depth to any dish and become richer with time after cooking. And be sure to not skip the browning step before the braise; browning enhances the meatballs' texture and flavor, whether you choose to pan-fry in a skillet or bake them.

For food safety reasons, fully cool the cooked meatballs before putting them in the fridge and ensure they don't stay at room temperature for more than two hours, except when cooking or reheating. Anything longer could lead to the growth of dangerous bacteria.

Store the meatballs in the sauce to keep them moist and flavorful as they soak up the sauce's juices, and put them in an airtight container to prevent cross-contamination while in the refrigerator. Finally, on the next day when you're ready for dinner, reheat the chilled meatballs by placing them along with the sauce in a cooking pot over low heat until completely heated through.