Latest posts by laserguru (see all)
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*image via food.com
Well, Hello again folks. Now that the abortion that was the 2016-2017 NFL season is over it’s time to get back in the kitchen.
I hope you enjoyed last week’s post on chicken chili and maybe some of you even had the chance to make some. It’s pretty simple but using the right techniques it can be elevated to culinary masterpiece status. Instead of going apeshit crazy on the recipe itself and origins and shit I tried to give you a couple of kitchen techniques that can be used for many applications. I taught the technique of fire roasting chilies, toasting and grinding spices as well as how to set up a cooking station for quick cooking items. I tried to focus more on advancing your skills rather than the recipe itself and I think it worked fairly well. I also wanted to continue that idea today. Concepts first along with a couple of recipe suggestions.
That’s my long winded way of saying that this is going to be easy as fuck again and I’m grasping for a theme.
It’s also my way of saying that I had something else entirely in mind but a couple of surprises led me to do a quick adaptation and that’s what we have here.
Last Sunday was Superb Owl Lee and as always I invited the family over for festivities and food and drink. This year my daughter eldest right, son-in-law and the two oldest granddaughters came over and they brought some food.
A fuckton of food.
A veritable goddamn smorgasbord of fucking food. So much fucking food that my primary main meal idea went right back on the shelf for another day. Spoiler! You will be seeing that meal REAL soon.
I had already started on a side dish and there was no turning back. That’s where today comes in. I had already started to make…
We’ll get into the recipes and ratios and shit in a minute but first a reflection on the glory of the goddamn meatball.
This is an excellent read on the various forms of meatballs found around the globe. Every continent, almost every culture and most every country has a version of meatballs. What I made for today’s recipe was Swedish meatballs or Köttbullar. It’s a simple meatball with a gravy made from stock, some flour, some dairy and seasonings. I made a batch of these and put them in a crockpot on low to keep them warm. Fucking delightful.
While the linked article gets into the details of all the various forms of meatballs around the world, I’ll just give a quick review on the ones that I’ve personally had.
Albondingas: A Mexican meatball featured in Albondingas soup. The soup usually has chicken stock, onions, potatoes, carrots, salsa, cilantro and these wonderful simple meatballs. If you haven’t tried this soup before… make a fucking correction to that shit.
Keftedes: A Greek meatball that’s usually made of lamb and sometimes has beef added, think gyro meat. These are seasoned with garlic, oregano and are usually pan fried and then served as an appetizer. I’ve had them in a light tomato sauce with a slight squeeze of lemon juice and holy fucking shit these things will rock the cock! Awesome.
Kefta: I had kefta, or kafta, at a Lebanese restaurant in Manhattan Beach and while it is similar in taste to the keftedes it is not rolled into a spherical shape, it is hand rolled into an elongated shape to better fill the center of a pita. Always made from lamb and seasoned with allspice and cinnamon, kefta is delicious but the shape is… well? How best to describe it?
More fecal than spherical in shape. Close your eyes while eating kefta and you’ll be fine.
Polpette: Italian meatballs not to be confused with Americanized Italian meatballs. Pollpette are smaller in size, usually have pork and beef, occasionally veal and sometimes will have Italian meats such as proscuitto, capacola or even buffalo mozzarella mixed into the meatballs. The Italians serve them simply alongside a simple pasta. These things are fucking outstanding.
Bò Viên: Vietnamese meatballs served in pho? Very close to my favorite form of meatball. A mixture of meat than can include beef, pork, ground Chinese sausage or chicken and a strong hint of ginger, garlic and fish sauce. Put these in a big bowl of pho along with some rare slices of beef…
Holy shit. I’ll be right back.
Almost gave myself a foodgasm there.
Of course the meatball most Americans are familiar with is the American/Italian meatball. I mix mine with pork and beef (pork and veal kicks all the ass) some breadcrumbs, an egg or 2, basil, oregano, about a quarter of an onion minced fine, a couple cloves of garlic minced fine, salt, pepper, red chili flake and some freshly grated parmesan. Roll into balls and pan fry for a couple of minutes and finish cooking in the oven to make them tender. Serve along with a batch of pasta and cover with a glorious red sauce (that recipe was my 2nd post ever and was the inspiration for the name “Sunday Gravy”) and serve.
Another delivery method for the American-Italian meatball is this one:
You need the right bread to do this bastard right. Strong enough to keep it’s integrity during the eating process, crusty yet light and not too dense. Pro tip! Grate some fresh parmesan on the meatballs, then a layer of provolone, then the mozzarella. That’s a fuckin’ sandwich.
One more quick suggestion. Looking to wake up your standard pizza order? Next time try salami, meatball and fresh garlic on your pie. You’re welcome.
Basic meatball ratios:
1 pound of meat
1/2 cup of breadcrumbs
1/4 onion minced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon of fresh parmesan
salt and pepper to taste
Herbs and seasonings of choice.
You can multiply these ratios out for each additional pound of meat and they work solidly.
Meatwise I start with ground pork and if you add another pound of ground veal you will be fucking amazed. Mixing a pound of pork and a pound of beef is also pretty fucking epic.
If you want to just roll them up and bake them, cook in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes. To add a nice brown to the meatballs, pan fry for about 5 minutes and finish in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
For breadcrumbs I prefer panko since it gives the meatballs a nice smooth texture. If you prefer to go old school and use the can of dried breadcrumbs, the ratios still apply. If you want to use day old bread, soak a couple of slices in milk, squeeze the milk out of the bread and add to the meat mixture.
Let’s do this motherfucker.
I’m going to give you the 1 pound of meat version since I had a bag of frozen meatballs from Omaha Steaks in my freezer. My oldest brother ordered a box of mixed meats from these jabronies for the holidays and a bag of meatballs was included.
Important tip folks!
Don’t order from Omaha Steaks. My meatballs kicked their ass all the way back to Nebraska.
1 tablespoon of oil
1 pound of ground beef
1/2 cup of breadcrumbs – panko
1/4 onion minced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon of fresh parmigiano reggiano
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon of red pepper flake
1 teaspoon of paprika
1/2 teaspoon of NUTMEG.
Toss everything in a bowl.
Wash your grubby ass hands with soap and hot water! Now mix everything well. Roll into spherical shapes about the size of a golf ball.
Get out the familiar Dutch oven or deep saute pan and add the oil. Heat the oil to medium high and start browning the meatballs. Should take about 5 minutes to brown them thoroughly. Preheat the oven to 350 and finish the meatballs in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
For the gravy
2 cups of beef stock
3 tablespoons of flour
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1 tablespoon of lingonberry jelly. I used blackberry jelly but raspberry or hell even grape would work. The original asks for lingonberry which always brings this to mind.
Pan drippings from the meatballs.
Pour the stock into the same pan that you browned the meatballs in and scrape up the little crusty bits from the bottom. Take the flour and put in a small bowl. Add a ladle of the stock from the pan into the bowl with the flour. Mix together well. This is how you get the lumps out of the gravy. Add flour mix back to the pot. Bring to a simmer over low heat until the gravy starts to thicken, maybe 15 minutes.
Side note: this is a perfectly kickass brown gravy for those who would like to make a brown gravy. Stir the stock into the pan drippings, add the flour mixture, season and thicken. This would drop some panties when served over meatloaf. Anyway.
Reduce the heat to a very low simmer until the meatballs have finished cooking in the oven. Before adding the meatballs, stir in the heavy cream and the jelly. Season to taste. It should be slightly sweet but still a savory gravy. Finally add in the meatballs.
That’s not what I meant.
Once again, I just put the whole batch of my meatballs and the crappy and all too generic Omaha Steaks meatballs in a crockpot on low and everyone just used some plastic forks to grab a meatball when they wanted.
For a proper dinner, ditch the Omaha meatballs, double the recipe and serve as outlined. This goes fucking incredibly over some cooked egg noodles. Serve it over rice? God yes! How about some mashed potatoes? You goddamn wildman that sounds fan-fucking-tastic.
You get the picture.
When I was a kid there was this chain of smorgasbord restaurants called Sir George’s Smorgasbord House.
My parents would take me and the 3 older brothers to these on occasion, mostly because it’s the one place where us goddamn animals would have enough to eat. This was my introduction to Swedish meatballs.
After the 2nd plate of nothing but meatballs I’m pretty sure I had a “reversal” as the competitive eaters say. I don’t give a fuck because I still love the little bastards.
Now I want you to get out there and practice your new found meatball skills! Try starting with just ground pork and add in some hot cherry peppers and extra garlic. Shit yes. Give it an Asian twist with some soy, ginger and garlic. Mix in those Italian deli meats and cheeses like I mentioned before. All of the ground meats can work. All of the herbs and seasonings can work.
You are now armed with weapons grade meatball knowledge.
Now get out there and go fucking meatball wild!