Monday, December 31, 2012

Meatballs for Hobbits

This year for Christmas Eve, my family made appetizers instead of a traditional Christmas meal with all the trimmings. I decided to combine a couple of recipes from Pinterest to try my hand at home made meatballs. Here are the two recipes I adapted. Dialed-In Nutrition's Italian Meatballs and Cheesy Chicken Parm Meatballs from Tracey's Culinary Adventures. I have awakened some kind of experimenting, Pinteresting, blog-surfing meatball monster.

I am learning a lot about meatballs. And there are many different schools of thought: with cheese vs without; one egg vs two eggs; bread crumbs vs flour; spices vs. spicy sausage; veal vs lamb vs sausage. It is over dramatizing things a tad to divide the world of meatball opinions into schools of thought and pit them against each other in a battle to win your loyalty, but I really wanted to use the "vs." language so you all have to deal with the drummed-up drama. Thank you for bearing with me, at the end of this ramble there is a meatball recipe that is, I think, worth it for those who like things on the mild, predictable, Hobbity side of things. 

After all this digging and nerd-style research, I have learned one thing that is true of every recipe that I am drawn to: they all have beef and a secondary ingredient. The first batch I tried at Christmas had ground turkey. This made for lighter, less fatty meat balls if that is possible in something that is a glob of meat. I like to stick with very lean beef to begin with. It is a good foundation, and it means that if you want to add spicy sausage, or some more fancy meat, that there is more freedom to do that without worrying about your meatball being too, too heavy. See above comment about globs of meat.

I have also learned that there is actual, not invented-for-Sarah's-grammatical-whims debate about cheese worked into the meat itself so it runs throughout or packed inside like a little cheese bomb. I much prefer the second and set out to see if I can make a meatball recipe that is something I will actually write down and be able to recreate again and pass onto you. I prefer more spice (ahem, flavor) than the ones I made on Christmas.

So, for you, my faithful, blog-reading friends that put up with the randomness that is this blog, I will write down both recipes. Here, near as I can figure it, is the recipe that I made over Christmas. They were actually quite tricky to make into packets of meat with cheese bombs in them. This is primarily because I used shredded cheese, which was hard to pack inside of the raw meat. I imagine that cubed cheese would be much easier.

Meatballs for Hobbits ( and all other people who resemble my parents and like mild things. The all-knowing receptionist falls into this category - you would love these, lady!)

1 can (48 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 small onion - diced
3 cloves garlic- minced
roughly 1/8 cup red wine (more or less to taste)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp marjoram
1tsp basil
dash of pepper
dash balsamic vinegar

* Saute garlic, onion and spices in olive oil in large skillet until onions are soft and translucent.
* Add red wine. Reduce until desired thickness- was roughly 8 minutes for me.
* Add tomatoes and their juices. Simmer uncovered roughly 25 minutes.
* Remove sauce from skillet transfer into slow cooker (or a dutch oven, seeing as I don't own a slow cooker. My bother and sister in law do and this is what we used for Christmas dinner with the fam) DO NOT CLEAN THE SKILLET. Leave all those juicy, tasty bits in the skillet so that you can sear the meatballs in it. Seriously, this is the best thing ever and it makes the meatballs that much more tasty, which is important because these are fairly mild and they need to additional flavor.

1 lb lean ground beef (93/7)
1 lb ground turkey
1/4 cup flour
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
1/4 tsp marjoram

* Preheat oven to 350. line large cookie sheet with foil.
* Combine ground beef and turkey in large bowl. I did this with my hands as it was easier to  ensure the meat was well mixed.
* Add egg, flour, and spices. Combine until fairly evenly distributed.
heat the skillet with 1-2 tbs olive oil on medium heat.
* Take a golf-ball sized glob (I am guessing this was roughly 1/4 cupish) flatten onto your hand, and pinch a small hand full of cheese mixture into the flattened meat. Then close the meat around the cheese so that you can't see any of the cheese. Place meat ball in skillet. Repeat this until your skillet is full.
* Turn the meatball several times so that you brown all sides of the meat ball. This way they get crispy and they get all the flavor of the sauce that is still in the skillet- making a tasty crust on your meatball and a happy marriage of meatball and sauce.
* Once your meatballs are browned on all sides, remove them from the skillet and place them on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Cook for 25-30 minutes.

Once they are done you can add them to the sauce and all live happily ever after. 

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