Sunday, September 13, 2009

Week 1: Lacey's Everything but the....Balls!

Ahhh meatballs. These delectably meaty balls call my name when the weather gets colder and I find myself needing to cook and store food for winter like a little squirrel. I like meatballs for a multitude of reasons. One, they go with alot of dishes, two, you can freeze them, three, you can pretty much use anything in them and they taste great, and four they are the perfect food to make for people who get bored easily. If I get sick of cooking pan after pan, which I always do, I can just toss the rest of the mix in a seal a meal bag and throw it in the freezer to finish up later - which I did this time. As usual.

Now...I have three Cardinal Meatball Rules:
1. Keep one hand on the bowl so it stays clean while mixing the meat and bread with the other in case you need to add more ingredients – making meatballs is a messy business. You can of course wear gloves but I find this to be sissy-ish (just get in there and get dirty!), plus mushing all the ingredients together makes for softer skin anyways.
2. Breadcrumbs will almost always thicken up a too runny meatball mix, keep it nearby and don’t add any until everything is mixed together.
3. Food process the wet bready stuff if you can. Its just nicer that way.

That being said, my general recipe for balls is as follows:
1 lbs low fat all natural/grain fed hamburger
1 lbs italian sausage
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
4-6 slices of fresh french bread loaf (about an inch thick
1 small yellow onion
1 green bellpepper
2-4 cloves garlic
garlic salt
italian seasonings
that Kraft cheese in a can (aka Stinky Cheese in our fam)
Italian style breadcrumbs

This week however I decided to clear out some stuff and tossed in some organic cream instead of the milk, red bellpepper instead of green, Italian Three Cheese in lieau of Stinky, added Rogue Creamery Bleu Cheese and some locally mixed Garlic Death cheese I had left over and a 1 lbs package of natural ground lamb I ran to the store for in the bowl as well. goes:

In the food processor -crack the two eggs, add the milk/cream, tear up and add the bread and pulse for a few seconds coating the bread thorougly and let sit for a minute. If you don't have a food processor just put it all in a bowl and get your hands dirty, it works the same but will just be a bit chunkier - who cares! It will all taste the same.
Chop the onion and bellpepper, crush the cloves of garlic and remove shell - add it to the processor and turn it on until everything is mush. Next, add the bleu and any other cheese you like to the top. It should look about like this:

In a(nother) large bowl - add all the meat, dump in some of the spices you like - I personally add about 3 tbsp italian seasonings, 1 tsp garlic salt, 1 tsp seasalt, about ten cranks on a pepper grinder, 1/4 cup of italian bread crumbs, and some preshredded italian three cheeses.
With one hand on the bowl (rule #1 remember?), start mixing all of the meats and dried seasonings together. Mix it! Mix it good! Now add in the bread mush from the processor and mix some more. A lot more!

Aaaaaand Houston? Do we have a problem?!?....Now is the time you will notice...did you overestimate the amount of cream/egg/bread mix and now have to go to the store for more burger? This is what you could get with the "dump and pour method" I prefer to use. I don't measure much ingredients. If you form a meatball at this point and it doesn't hold its form, well...refer to Cardinal Meatball Rule #2. It saves my arse. Every. Single. Time.

Now that your meatballs are all mixed, pop that bowl in the fridge, turn the oven on at 350 and start to clean up the mess you made. I am a firm believer - if you are making meatballs and there isn't a mess, you didn't do it right!

Once you've cleaned up, get out a cookie sheet and the bally mixture and start forming balls. Make them about an inch big if you can...mine usually end up larger than a golf ball for some reason. Place them an inch apart and cook for 20 minutes. If they are about a ping pong ball size, then 20 minutes should do it. If they are bigger like mine, you can flip them, and cook for another ten. And repeat, repeat, repeat. Or if you are like me and get bored, cook what you want for that night and toss the rest of the mix in the freezer (labeled so you know what the hell it is) and be done with it.

We like to warm our balls in the microwave and serve with a little salad and dried tomatoes drizzled with Evoo and balsamic , cheese and ciabatta bread. Or just slap those balls around in some sauce and noodles and call it good!

Ultimately when playing with these hairless balls it is all about consistency of the meaty mixture. The technique and ingredients don't matter. If it is too runny they won't hold up when cooking. They should be firm to the touch, holding their shape even when put under intense heated pressure. Remember Ladies: No one likes a flat ball!


Post a Comment