Cozy Up to Some (meat)BALLS

What can I say?  A single gal’s gotta do what she’s gotta do.  And I’ve already confessed my penchant for emotional eating.  So when the temperature took a dive this morning (a whopping -10 at 8am, with a projected high of 10), I put on a huge pot of marinara and made meatballs. 

Now these beauties are lighter and healthier than the guido-balls most people think of, and they take some time, but they’re so worth it.  Plus, this recipe makes 13 large balls, and that’s enough for me enjoy now, and freeze a bunch in pairs (of course) for later—like Valentine’s Day.

1 lb ground chicken
1 lb ground pork
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
5 oz of baby spinach, lightly chopped
olive oil
3-4 TBSP fresh chopped Oregano or Thyme
½ head of fresh parsley chopped until it’ emerald green in color
1-2 cups panko bread crumbs
½ -1 cup parmesan or parmesan and low fat mozzarella mixed together
kosher salt
cracked pepper

Technique/Ingredient Tips
·         Make sure to remove the stems from the parsley and chop it until it turns emerald green in color.  If you don’t believe me, lightly chop one part of the parsley and then emerald green chop the other.  Taste them.  See?  The green green parsley has more flavor and is less bitter.
·         Always use panko bread crumbs.  They’re lighter and give the meatballs a silky texture.

In a sauté pan, lightly sauté the onion and garlic with a large pinch of kosher salt in olive oil until onion is translucent.  Add oregano or thyme and sauté for a couple of minutes.  Add spinach and cover until it wilts (about 2-3 minutes).  In the meantime, put the ground meats in a bowl.  Salt and pepper liberally.  Add 1 cup of bread crumbs to start.  When the onion mixture is ready, cool to room temp (hint, put it in the fridge), and then combine with meats and panko. Add cheese.  Keep adding panko until the mixture is solid and less sticky.  Then roll about ½ cup at a time into a ball and place on a cookie sheet lined with wax or parchment paper.  Cover with at towel and chill for at least 1 hour.  At this point you can also freeze these beauties for later use (you can also freeze after cooking).

Make or buy marina.  Preheat the oven to 350.  Use a vegetable steamer (not one of those cheap, one size fits all that sit inside the water, but one made for a specific pot that is suspended over the water), to steam the meatballs about 3-4 at a time (don’t crowd them) for about 20 minutes each, making sure to turn them half way.  Place steamed balls in a 9 X X 12 baking dish that has some sauce spread on the bottom.  Ladle more sauce over eat meatball.  Bake for 30-45 minutes. 

I like to serve this dish with a roasted spaghetti squash and braised Brussels sprouts.  My killer recipe follows.  I guaranteed even professed haters of the tiny, maligned sprout will love, love, love them.

Populist Braised Brussels Sprouts
Brussels Sprouts
olive oil
kosher salt
chicken stock

  Heat a  heavy gauge pan on the stove for a few minutes (NOT non-stick).  Menawhile, cut the sprouts in half, long ways.  Drizzle pan with olive oil.  Put sprouts face or flat side down and liberally sprinkle with kosher salt.  Let cook until sprouts just start to brown.  Deglaze pan with about 1/3 cup stock.  Place a lid on top, turn down the heat by half and let steam for 4-6 minutes.  If the stock dries up, add more.

Serve this way or with a bit of shaved parmesan on top. 

You can also us apple juice in the place of stock for a sweeter sprout.

Stay Warm!


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