I have decreed, in my enthusiasm for making dinner, that we shall have meatballs once a week.
Why meatballs? Because there are a lot of meatball recipes out there. Not just the old-fashioned Italian spaghetti & meatballs that we all know and love, either. I mean, meatballs from all over the world, made with any kind of meat you can imagine. It’s such a versatile little thing (or big thing, if you’re like Geordie and prefer your meatballs baseball-sized). There are all kinds of meatballs out there waiting to be explored: meatballs for appetizers, entree meatballs, tiny meatballs, meatballs as big as your hand, soup meatballs, sandwich meatballs, sauteed meatballs, baked meatballs, even vegetarian “meatballs” that sound delicious despite defying everything that meatballs stand for. The only variation I haven’t seen is a dessert meatball. I’m still looking. There’s hope yet. I find the idea most . . . intriguing.
I realize I’m not the first person to think this way. The varied nature of the meatball may be over-looked by some, but it has been lauded by others. Take, for instance, these guys. The Meatball Shop is a restaurant in New York City (where else?) that serves nothing but meatballs. Alright, so they’ve got sides and desserts and stuff, but the main attraction is the Ball. Last year, they published a cookbook that includes about 30 recipes for meatballs. That’s more than half a year of meatballs right there, even not counting the few that I doubt Geordie and I would eat (the Spicy Pork has lots of peppers in it, and the Reuben includes sauerkraut, which is kinda gross). They even have meatballs for seldom-used meats, like chicken liver and venison. And rabbit. I’d totally eat a bunny ball. Just to try it.
Clearly, the possibilites for meatballs are nearly endless. So, in a further attempt to keep myself entertained, I will be making meatballs once a week. Geordie raised an eyebrow at me, but he didn’t complain. I’m pretty sure that he won’t complain as long as dinner gets made or pizza gets ordered. Not all of my culinary experiments turn out well, but he’s such an awesome man that he’ll give anything I churn out a try. That’s love for you.
Now, the best way to go about this would be to grind my own meat. Grinders vary in cost, but that doesn’t really matter, because at the moment, we don’t have a lot of money to throw around. I’m just going to have to put it on my list of “Kitchen Desirables” and leave it at that. The second best way to go about this would be to befriend a butcher. A good, reliable butcher who knows what he’s really doing and maybe doesn’t charge so much. I live in Texas. I’m betting finding a good butcher isn’t going to be that difficult to do. In fact, just down the street (literally, like maybe a half a mile) is a Culebra Meat Market. That’s gotta be a butcher shop.
[Upon a quick Google search, I find that why, yes. Yes, it is. There are about 20 of them in San Antonio. And holy cow, that's a lotta meat. I would go right now if I had the car today. Ten pounds of various butchered fresh meat for 25 bucks? I'm not even sure where I'd put all that meat.]
Okay, I’m back from my little Google trip. Where was I? Oh, yeah. Meatballs.
I decided to kick-off the Meatballapalooza with something traditional. Just a simple spaghetti and meatballs dish. Which opens up a lotta possibilities. Pretty much everybody and their mother has their own way of making traditional Italian-style meatballs. I narrowed my options down to something simple and slow-cooked. I wanted to stick them in my crockpot, douse them with my leftover tomato sauce, and leave them to cook all day.
Voila: Slow Cooked Meatballs from Can You Stay for Dinner? Simple to make, with very little effort on my part. I could let them cook all day, then simply boil up some whole wheat spaghetti to accompany them. Exactly what I wanted.
They even made it into a meatball sub for Geordie’s lunch a couple days later.
So, they were easy to make, but how were they as a meal? Well, they were okay. Not great, but definitely not terrible. They didn’t have the tenderness I like in a meatball. The flavoring was pretty good, don’t get me wrong, but they were a bit on the dry side. I’d cook them a couple hours less next time, maybe 6 instead of 8. Instead of onions (which Geordie and I both detest), I used mushrooms to boost the sauce, and that was a great addition. We supplemented with the remainders of the fresh spinach, and there we had our meal. Not bad. I’d probably make them again, with a little tweaking to the cooking time. It was an easy meal to put together, so it’s definitely one to save for a busy day.
All in all, a good start to the Meatballapalooza.
Next week: I cheat and open up a bag of IKEA’s Swedish Meatballs. I am far more excited about this than I should be.