Friday, June 15, 2007

Western PA Meatballs

I decided that I'd better start a food and cooking blog, basically because I think about this stuff all the time and it's cluttering both my brain and my main blog, Double Hoo. Every kitchen needs a junk drawer, and this will be my written junk drawer, where I stuff all my nascent recipes and half-formed ideas, gush about my triumphs, and talk through my failures.

Since this is day one of the blog, I'll start with one of each of those things. The nascent recipe isn't really mine; it's Jared's grandma's, kind of, and I'm pretty sure everybody in the state of Pennsylvania has eaten it as an hors d'oeuvre at least once. For lunch today, I've made sweet and sour meatballs (or "holiday meatballs," or "cocktail meatballs") glazed with chili sauce and grape jelly.

This all started because I went to the grocery store to replenish my supply of Gladware. I don't know where it all goes. I'm probably racking up days in purgatory just because of the amount of stuff I throw out. At the store, I saw that Heinz Chili Sauce was on sale. I don't even really know what chili sauce is, but I know it's used in these meatballs, and lo and behold, the label contained a recipe for them. So I picked up a bottle of the sauce and a pound and a half of ground turkey (the bottle said beef, but Jared's grandma uses turkey, and grandmas beat bottles any day), and got to work. I put in extra onion because I love onion, and used granulated garlic because I forgot to mince a garlic clove before washing the cutting board, and I'm lazy. Here's my (tweaked) recipe:

Western PA Meatballs

1-1/2 pounds ground turkey
2/3 c bread crumbs (or enough to make the mixture non-sticky enough)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp kosher salt
a bunch of cracked black pepper
1/4 tsp granulated garlic
1 small onion, minced

Throw all that stuff together in a bowl. (All measurements approximate, all spices from Penzeys.) Mix it up with your hands. Get your cast iron skillet good and hot over medium heat, coat the bottom with peanut oil, and drop the turkey mixture in in approximately 1-inch, approximately ball-shaped blobs. Turn them every minute or so until they're browned all over, then pull them out and drain them on paper towels. At the same time, in a saucepan, combine approximately equal parts chili sauce and grape jelly over low heat. When the jelly gets hot enough, it'll melt, and you can swirl it into the chili sauce. When all the meatballs are browned, turn the heat under the skillet all the way down, wipe the skillet out, put all the meatballs back in and pour the sauce over. Make sure the meatballs are good and coated, then throw a lid on there and simmer them over the lowest possible heat, stirring them up every ten minutes or so, until you're about ready to eat.

So that's the nascent recipe. (It's nascent because Jared swears it's much better with guava jelly, and because I don't really like the flavor of bread crumbs—I'll tweak the sauce and try cracker crumbs next time.) The half-formed idea started developing because I've been rewatching Season 1 of Top Chef, and there's an episode where the chefs have to create dishes that fuse Latin American street food with influences from other countries. The one that intrigued me the most was the Latin/Indian fusion. The dish they created didn't do anything for me, but I couldn't stop thinking about this burrito. I'd want to make the tortilla with chickpea flour—can you do that? I'd have to read about the structural properties of chickpea flour. Maybe combine it with masa. Anyway, I'd fill the tortilla with black beans and rice, then add a layer of curried or masala-spiced plantains. Top the whole thing off with a golden raisin and onion chutney, maybe with some ancho pepper in there? I'm determined to turn this idea into a recipe, but it's going to take more experimentation than I have the energy for right now, and I have to figure out the tortilla issue.

I just realized I don't really have a triumph to gush about. Or... hmm, okay, yeah, the salad I made the other night was pretty darn good. Just mixed baby lettuces, quartered strawberries, chopped walnuts, and golden raisins (I love my raisins), drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with cracked pepper (I love my pepper too). That's one I'll make again. Possibly again today...

And finally, the failure. I'm experimenting with not eating dairy products, in an effort to see whether my recent stomach issues are related to them. This means I can't eat the half gallon of delicious ice cream that's in my fridge, and leaves me at a bit of a loss, dessert-wise. So I decided to make some coconut rice pudding. I combined a can of light coconut milk with 3/4 of a cup of arborio rice and stirred that over medium heat until the rice was done. Then I stirred in sugar, the juice and zest of one small lime, and some garam masala. The pudding is good, but the coconut milk is just a little too fatty (even though it's light!), and there's too much sugar and not enough spice. I bought some unsweetened soymilk last night (Westsoy Organic Unsweetened), and while I won't be pouring myself a frosty cold glass of plain soymilk anytime soon, it's great with Hershey's syrup, and I think I'll try some in my next batch of coconut rice pudding. I do love the balance that the lime juice brings to the pudding, and the garam masala, despite containing not-so-desserty spices like cumin and coriander, is delicious. So I'll be trying this again, but the current batch is just too sweet to eat, and I may well toss it before it fossilizes in my fridge.

Time for lunch: the just-finished meatballs, some olive-oil-rosemary-garlic potatoes (frozen, out of a bag, but not bad, though rosemary kinda makes me think of church incense), and green salad with homemade sesame vinaigrette. And a Top Chef episode to watch while I eat...

1 comment:

Vevay said...

Keep up the good work.