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A small portion of ground meat that has been seasoned and rolled into a round ball-like shape. Meatballs were most likely created as a way to use up excess meat, taking scraps of meat, grinding them into small bits and possibly adding some fillers to help hold the mixture together. The meat is rolled into a ball for use in soups, stews, sauces, and pasta dishes. Today, meatballs are served as appetizers, as side dishes to the main course, or they can be combined with foods such as pasta or noodles to become the main dish.

Two of the most popular meatball dishes are spaghetti and meatballs or Swedish meatballs, both very common foods that originated in Europe. Spaghetti and meatballs typically combine strands of pasta, but also other pasta shapes with meatballs and a pasta sauce to prepare this common Italian dish. Swedish meatballs, which are referred to as k├Âttbullar in Sweden, is a food dish that uses beef, pork, veal, or a combination of several meats as the base for the meat ingredients. The meatballs are then combined with some type of filler, such as flour and/or breadcrumbs, pieces of bread or mashed potatoes. Seasonings such a herbs and spices are added and then they are cooked before being topped or immersed in sauce. Typical Swedish meatball sauces may include a brown gravy-like sauce, a white cream-based sauce, or a wine sauce.

When rolling the ground meat into round balls, the meat may have a tendency to stick to the hands, but dipping the hands in a bowl of water will help to prevent this from happening. To simplify making meatballs, a kitchen utensil known as a meatballer or meat ball maker is available that forms the meat into round balls. The meatballer enables the ball to be uniform in size and consistent in shape for various meatball dishes.

Several other meatball-like foods that are often considered to be meatballs are fishballs and matzah balls. Fish balls are made with bits of fish and/or seafood that are combined with fillers and then cooked in boiling water rather than baked or fried. Matzah balls, which is a traditional Jewish food, are cooked in a broth and are then typically served with the broth as a Matzo ball soup.

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