Culinary Q

Q as in "cue" as in "to prompt." A recipe is only the beginning…

Spicy Meatballs – and not from that old TV ad!

Ah – blogging once more – hopefully I can stay back at it for a while! Actually, I think I am getting close to finally taking a running leap and making food service a career. I am thinking Personal Chef or the like. I am looking into joining the Personal Chef Network for support. I must say that learning about the local lady from Wakefield MA is very inspiring, too. I want to cook, write about cooking, and share good food with others.

But – in the meantime – here I am actually posting again!

So, I’ve been making meatballs for a while. They are tasty – baked to lower the fat content, and containing diced onion and green pepper and some grated then chopped carrot – and an egg and oatmeal . When Steve was still having reactions from eggs and I was not using them, I would grind flax seed to get that binding thing going. No difference in taste or texture, but I started using eggs once Steve could handle them because it is way easier and less messy than grinding flax seeds!

I know that all sounds way too healthy to taste good, but they are quite tasty, as I said above. I have a committed carnivore husband as a quality control person, remember? [grin] – but Steve started saying he wanted “spicy” meatballs. Okay – so I started by searching for and then selecting a recipe for Spicy meatballs online.
Click HERE to see what I picked as a base. I added veggies and stuff – so this was just the starter recipe. But, one must start somewhere….(with apologies to Paul Valéry)

BUT, while poking around, I also found another recipe on the Cooks’s Country website that suggests using part sweet sausage meat “for a more intense pork flavor.” This is suggested as being more effective than using plain ol’ ground pork.

Their recipe called for 2 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck (80 percent lean) to 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed.

AND – I kept coming across recipes saying to soak fresh bread crumbs in milk to make a paste….It was time for me to experiment!

The first time, I totally guessed and bought and used two sausages – turns out that is about ½ a pound if you buy them at The Farmland, my FAVORITE market. And, I soaked breadcrumbs in milk, but, I am not sure if they were fresh or dry or of the proportions. That will teach me not to write things down when I cook!

But, bottom line is – the meatballs came out most excellent!!!! Not to be a Rachel wannabe, but YUMMO.

However, I didn’t write down what I did – and I did adjust the recipes…SO, here is what I did the NEXT time:

1 lb ground beef (I actually had in the freezer a pound of beef that I had ground myself in the food processor a few weeks ago from chuck or the like that was on BIG sale. – my next option is ground beef from Farmland because they grind their own – so not from many cows.)

½ pound sweet sausage (I had forgotten whether I should get sweet or hot sausage and when I explained to the gentleman behind the counter at Farmland, he told me I wanted sweet sausage and that they had it available to buy all ground but not yet in the casing. That was easy! I got ½ a pound since I liked that proportion the last time.)

3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
½ cup milk
½ cup oatmeal
¼ cup grated and chopped carrot
¼ cup diced onion
1 egg
2 tsp Worcester sauce
2 tsp dry mustard
½ tsp fresh ground pepper (well, 50-60 twists)
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp hot pepper sauce (Tabasco or the like)
1 tsp chili garlic sauce

I started by mixing the breadcrumbs and milk first and letting them sit while I did the rest of the prep. I put everything but the meat into a smaller bowl and mixed it up – then added the soaked breadcrumbs and then mixed it all with the meat.

It made 15 meatballs around 2 ½ + inches in diameter. To bake – in a regular oven, I would preheat to say 375 or so, place the meatballs on a cookie rack over a cookie sheet or on a broiler pan, and bake for 30 or so minutes, turning once at 15 minutes – then check the internal temperature of one of the meatballs to make sure it is close to 160. You might need to adjust cooking time and temperature.

You see, I have one of those Krups toaster/convection ovens (this was a $200 investment but WELL worth it! It makes great toast, works great as a regular oven, and the convection option is super.) I usually do meatballs on convection at 350 for 30 minutes, turjing at 15 minutes – although I did this batch at 400 for the first 7 minutes. They were bigger than I usually make. But, just bake them until they are brown and a little crisp and have a safe internal temperature. Although, they get more cooked if you put them to simmer in sauce for a while. FYI – I used a 26 oz jar of prepared sauce and had to keep back 4 of the meatballs since I made no extra sauce this time. Now I have to find the recipe I used for quick but REALLY great sauce from diced tomatoes, etc., that I used last time! It was better than the one I have from Cook’s illustrated.

BOTTOM LINE: They were very good – excellent, even. And, as spicy as my husband had imagined and wanted. BUT, I liked the texture of my first try better. And I know why. Turns out I did use breadcrumbs from fresh (well, day old but not dried out) bread the first time.
So – next time, I will use fresh bread crumbs. No, I don’t know how much or the amount of milk! I am trying to remember……But I am convinced that it will make the texture softer without decreasing the firmness, and adding a touch of smoothiness/creaminess…

Hopefully I’ll remember to post subsequent experiments! : )


One comment on “Spicy Meatballs – and not from that old TV ad!

  1. Marjorie

    Wendy: As I said in church today, I tend to like making different things than you do. I don’t look it, but I make every effort, short of being obsessive, to keep the fat content down. I also like to take “back of the box” recipes and alter them, such as my 3/4 ground turkey and 1/4 ground beef Lipton Soup meatloaf. Glen LOVES it.
    I think the soup idea at church is a good one. My “mustard seed” of a thought, as I said, involves a “pay what you can” LUNCH. I envision a PR campaign for the “Almost Gourmet” Cafe to attract full price customers as well as those who are experiencing hardship. And SELLING leftovers to make money. (The recent Italian Dinner put on by the First Baptist’s Cerretani family here in Melrose charged $5.00 for their leftovers). As many people know,I am interested in homelessness, therefore, there is a personal agenda here: to get the poor and the well off to mix, like actually sit in the same room if not at the same table.
    These are just thoughts. I think some more and we’ll talk some more.
    All best,
    Marjorie Hill-Devine

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This entry was posted on 04/01/2009 by in Uncategorized.
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