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I finally went and bought the Meatball Shop Cookbook because I kept going back to it and copying recipes, and I figured I’d definitely use it if I bought it. Also, I had a coupon and knocked off about 10 bucks, which is always a good thing. I got it just before Thanksgiving and decided I would make the ground turkey “post-Thanksgiving” meatballs even though we didn’t even have turkey for Thanksgiving. It was a pleasant dish, and it did give the feeling of combining all those yummy Thanksgiving leftovers into one little meatball.
The meat base is ground turkey (naturally). Thrown into the mix are dried cranberries, sage, and homemade garlic croutons (the “stuffing” stand-in). Everything gets all mixed together, and then they’re roasted in the oven for a while. I served them with the leftover crockpot sweet potatoes & apples, which added a nice bit of sweetness to the meal.
The only problem was that there is no recommended sauce, and these definitely need a sauce. They taste fine on their own – in fact, they totally taste like a little bit of Thanksgiving dinner! You get the poultry, the stuffing, and the cranberry sauce all in one. All you need is potatoes, and it’d be a mini-Thanksgiving! Oh, and gravy. Because that’s really what these meatballs need, a nice dose of gravy to sauce them up a bit. Sadly, we had no gravy (I’m not sure if I’m allowed to say I’m from the South anymore), and I didn’t feel like making any just for some meatballs (and that’s just the nail in the coffin). Geordie rummaged around in the fridge and came up with the BBQ sauce, and that did the trick. Yes, we ate our turkey meatballs with BBQ sauce. And it was quite, quite tasty! I might go ahead and make them again after the Christmas turkey dinner. Just because.
Actually, I’m going to take a break from making meatballs for a week or two. I’ve got quite a few recipes I want to try, and I’m thinking about making one for our New Year’s Eve dinner. It’s just so hard to choose! I did recently discover that our nearby grocery store carries ground bison, and guess who has found a recipe for ground bison meatballs? Of course I have! I would be very surprised if I don’t make these within the next month or so.
So many kitchen adventures, so little time.
I have found so many recipes for meatballs that I could easily make them once a week for the next year or so. What’s fascinating is the variety that a meatball is capable of. Different meats, of course, different spices, different ways of adding moisture/texture, different cooking methods. Meatballs are one of those blank canvas foods, just waiting for a cook’s creativity to elevate them beyond a mere ball of meat.
This week, I made meatballs in soup, which I have heard of, though I’m pretty sure I’ve never eaten before. I went for the classic meatball soup: an Italian Wedding Soup.
Except, it’s not quite an Italian Wedding Soup. I was dazzled by the Pioneer Woman’s Italian Meatball Soup, which has a heartier beef broth base and no pasta to bulk it up. Instead of lots of green veggies, it has a hardy base of carrots and potatoes (and onions and celery in the original recipe, but we all know what happens to those in my kitchen). Cabbage is thrown in with the (pre-browned) meatballs, and that’s really about it. It’s a simple soup to make, and it all comes together really nicely.
It all starts with meatballs, lovingly made with heaping amounts of Parmesan cheese. The meatballs are then browned to get them ready for their soup bath.
Once they’re an appropriate color, they’re removed from the pot to sit and wait while the soup gets itself ready. Into the same pot goes beef broth and some seasonings, so what you’re really getting is a base stock flavored with an extra punch of the browned meatball bits. Very nice.
That simmers a bit, then you throw in your carrots and potatoes (and your onions and celery, if that’s your druthers) and let those simmer a bit longer. Then, in goes the meatballs and cabbage, which simmers just a little bit longer.
Good-looking soup, isn’t it? It was tasty at this point too, so I figured it had gone on long enough. Also, it was 9pm, and I was hungry and very much ready for dinner to be served.
Meatballs and veggies and broth get spooned into a bowl, and then the finishing touch is added: a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese on top. Oh, yes, this was shaping up to be a very fine meal.
I served the soup with some bread and butter, and that was that.
We liked this soup. It wasn’t knock your socks off terrific, but it was nice and filling without being too heavy. The bread went with it marvellously; the broth was quite nice by itself but the bread added another level of tastiness to it. The only (minor) issue was that once the cheese got mixed into the soup, it all sank to the bottom. It made those last few bites really tasty! But it didn’t seem to add a lot to the rest of the soup. Maybe the cheese would go better with the bread, that way you could easily get everything into one delicious bite.
So, all in all, meatballs in soup worked out really well for us. Definitely something I’d make again in the future, particularly in winter months. It was warming and filling and quite tasty. I’m looking forward, in the future, to making a more tradtional Italian Wedding Soup.
Next week, I’m going back to ground turkey, and we’ll see how that is with a little spinach mixed in. Should be a nice prelude to Thanksgiving week, which will not feature meatballs anywhere, unfortunately. I’ll have to find a really good non-poultry meatball dish for the week after Thanksgiving. Ooh, or maybe a vegetatian “meat”ball. I’ve got one recipe that features mushrooms that’s just begging to be made.
Ever since I started the whole meatball thing, I’ve played with the idea of getting a meat grinder. Something simple, small, and easy to use. And, most importantly, not so expensive.
Seriously, before we moved to Texas, I had not even thought about ever buying a meat grinder. Clearly, Texas is doing something to my head.
But, I do have a pretty nice meat grinder now.
We have a lot of meat in our freezer right now (don’t ask, that’s a different story), and I figured that a good way to use some of it was to grind it up and use it that way to liven things up a bit. That was entirely hypothetical on my part, but it turns out that it works well in practice as well as theory. So far.
It’s a cute little machine. Hand-cranked, which is fine for a couple of pounds of meat (I did ¾ of a pound, and it took me less than 15 minutes, including cutting up the meat). The machine also has three pasta blades, so you can bet I’m going to be trying that out in the future. It’s not a lot of variety (spaghetti, linguine, and rigatoni), but it’s a start. Not sure when I’ll get around to doing that, because it will be a bit more of a production than just cutting up some frozen meat and popping it in the feeder.
It’s also a fun little machine. I used a fine grind, which made the meat a little mushier, but I thought the texture was alright. It made for a very tender meatball.
Of course I made meatballs! What else was I gonna do with it?
Crockpot beef meatballs in a chiptole-tomato sauce over brown rice with corn and zucchini. A little on the spicy side; wish I’d had some queso fresco to throw on top of it, but we made do with sour cream. Would definitely be nice on a cold, winter day. Clearly, though, the highlight here is that I made those meatballs entirely from scratch.
Alright, not entirely. Mostly. Don’t worry – I don’t intend to start raising my own meat. Or butchering it, for that matter. I don’t have enough room in the kitchen for that. Also, that looks like a lot of work. I’ll leave it to the professionals.
But grinding my own meat? Yeah, I got that covered.