Whether it’s a fall tailgate or appetizer bar, meatballs are a huge success with every age group. I would say currently this is my ‘standard’ meatball recipe. Do I play around with it? Absolutely, but it’s received many comments for flavor so I stay the course. I’ll pick it apart a bit more in just a few moments. The hard part was settling in on a sauce. The first marinate attempt was a big lengthy exploration that I sent sailing about mid-way through. I looked at Bonnie, my assistant, and said: ‘People don’t want all this, they’re looking for simplicity.’
Within a few minutes the marinate was launched. So let’s visit a little bit over the ‘sauce’.
Many are familiar with the stand-by grape jelly marinate for meatballs. That’s ok in some situations, but I desired something taking a lead towards fall. Thus the reason for the apple jelly route. Any time you jazz up a jelly or a jam with mustards and ‘hotter’ spices it can be referred to as a jezebel’. You may want to taste this sauce to make sure it has the desired level of ‘heat’. My version is not particularly hot. My family will taste this recipe on Thanksgiving Eve as I team the meatballs up with a corn chowder.
Meatballs, you just can’t beat them. I ‘highly’ and I mean HIGHLY recommend taking the time to freeze a couple of bags for the freezer. Whether they’re for spaghetti and meatballs, meatball marinate or a meatball sub they will be very handy for this time of year. I freeze mine uncooked, but it doesn’t mean you need to do the same. The cooking process that I like the most is the oven approach. Simply put bake on a parchment covered jelly roll pan until the juices run clear. Drain, cool and eat!
One way I’ve also cooked meatballs in the past is to boil them! Yep, that is exactly what I said. Drop the meatballs into bowling water and they will go to the bottom. When they are cooked they will float to the top. If the meatball is covered in a sauce the browning of the meat is not a big deal. This method is also the healthiest. Lastly you can sauté the meatballs in a skillet. When you bake the meatballs you can be focusing on other aspects of the meal because they don’t require your attention.
I always wonder if people question why I use dry onions the in the meatballs. It’s only been about 2-3 years since our son, Phillip, would eat onions. The dry onions weren’t really visible, so I could put them in without his knowledge. Then I began to notice how well dry onions stayed in the meatballs during the cooking process.
Quite better than a fresh onion, I must say.
Remember to make the meatballs round and then stop. The more you play around with the product the tougher the meatballs become. This holds true for your hamburgers too. The choice of meat that I use for meatballs is part ground lean pork and part lean beef. It provides great flavor and moisture content.
This past week the colors in the Ozarks have been outstanding. I enjoyed a road trip down to Harrison for a little leaf ‘peeping’. However the mountains on the ‘high road’ in Branson were exceptional too.
Gotta’ run, there are several new recipes for the winter season that I need to set for printing. And like many, I’m kicking off the holiday preparations, on the home front. I go slow and do a little at a time so I’m ready by Thanksgiving weekend.
Get those menus planned ya’ll, there’s much to do before the first snowfall.
Enjoy, Simply yours, The Covered Dish. www.thecovereddish.com
2 1/2 lbs. ground Boston chuck, uncooked
(1/3 pork and 2/3 ground chuck blend)
1/2 cup dry onion flakes
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano leaves
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dry basil leaves
2 cups Italian bread crumbs
Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Line a jelly-roll pan (low sides) with parchment paper. Roll the meat into balls about the size of a half dollar. Evenly space the meatballs on the parchment paper. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes for half a batch and closer to 25 minutes for an entire batch.
For a meatball sandwich toast the hoagie style bun before filling with the meatballs and sauce. A spaghetti or marinara sauce works well. Top the sandwich with provolone cheese.
Marinated meatballs is another option. A simple sauce is attached for this purpose. Many still use a mixture of bbq sauce, grape jelly and mustard, for a fast sauce.
Meatballs can be submerged in the sauce or the sauce can be poured over the meatballs in the sandwich setting. Easy to bake, drain, cool and freeze for later use. Yields approximately 60 meatballs.
8-9 ounces apple jelly
8-9 ounces your favorite bbq sauce
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch cayenne pepper
Place all ingredients in a saucepan and heat until well blended. May even prepare in the microwave. Pour over 20-30 meatballs and serve as appetizers. More meatballs, more sauce.