Determining the amount of meatballs needed for a crowd of 30 people has its challenges. The amount required could differ if you plan to serve them as nibbles at a cocktail party or on top of pasta as the main course. A catering rule of thumb for cocktail parties is three to five pieces of food per guest per hour of the event. Take into consideration whether the meatballs are the only food served. Err on the side of caution, and make more than you think you will need. If serving the meatballs as a main dish, plan on two to three per person.
Things You'll Need
Italian-Style Meatballs in Marinara Sauce
Cut the bread slices into cubes and chop up in a food processor until crumbed. Omit this step if using prepared bread crumbs. Place the bread crumbs in a bowl and mix with the milk to rehydrate them. Drain any excess liquid.
In a large bowl, combine the meat with the remaining ingredients except the oil. Using your hands, thoroughly mix the ingredients together. Use a very light touch and do not overwork the mixture or you will wind up with meatballs that are very dense and tough.
Form the meat into 90 balls roughly the size of a golf ball. Place on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to 24 hours. While the meatballs are in the refrigerator, fill a large Dutch oven or pot with marinara sauce and set over low heat. Set a large heavy-bottomed sauté pan on the stove and cover the bottom roughly 1/2 inch with olive oil.
Remove the meatballs from the refrigerator. Heat the oil in the frying pan over medium heat until the oil begins to shimmer and almost begins to smoke. Add meatballs to the pan in batches without overcrowding the pan. Cook each batch of meatballs for 3 to 5 minutes, turning frequently, until browned on all sides. The meatballs do not need to be cooked through at this point.
Drain the meatballs and add to the pot with the marinara sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 hour or until the meatballs are cooked through.
Plain Baked Meatballs
Cut the bread slices into cubes and chop in a food processor until crumbed. Omit this step if using prepared bread crumbs. Place the bread crumbs in a bowl and mix with the milk to rehydrate them. Drain any excess liquid.
In a large bowl, combine the meat with the remaining ingredients except the oil. Using your hands, thoroughly mix the ingredients together. Use a very light touch and do not overwork the mixture.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Form the meat into 90 balls roughly the size of a golf ball. Place on parchment-covered baking sheets. Place the baking sheets in the preheated oven, no more than two at a time, and bake for 10 to 20 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through.
You can opt to use only beef. If omitting just the pork or veal, use equal parts beef and pork or veal.
Use a small scoop to help measure the meat and form the meatballs for a consistent size and shape.
You can freeze the cooked meatballs before putting in the sauce for up to one month.
References and ResourcesA Tasteful Affair: Hors d'Oeuvre Planning
Southwestern Medical Center: Health Watch -- Party Stomachaches
Resources"Cook's Illustrated"; Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs for a Crowd; November 2010
Scandinavian Cooking: Swedish Meatballs
Taste for Cooking: Grape Jelly Meatballs Recipe