It’s (not raining) meatballs

I’m always looking for recipes to use ground (minced) meat. My standbys are keftedes, or Greek hamburgers made by my mother, stuffed vegetables (yemistes), and meatloaf.+ Ground turkey long replaced ground beef in my kitchen, though I still do occasionally use the beef.* Turkey is a leaner meat. Some say it’s flavorless, but that can be remedied with the use of selected herbs. I have a so-called Japanese recipe we enjoy when I infrequently have ground chicken. Ground lamb is often a treat, especially for stuffing veges And bison, though it’s much leaner than turkey, finds itself into a number of my dishes (a remnant of many years living in Oklahoma). I especially enjoy bison chili; I rarely make it anymore because of Daughter’s sensitive taste buds.

+see posts 12-12-22 for a tasty variation of meatloaf, 4-24-22 for my “surprise meatloaf” and 8-28-22 for another variation

*see post 1-17-22 for Soboro Donburi that uses ground beef. I have the ingredients and will make it again this week! 

Meatballs are a common ground meat dish. Since beginning this blog, Constant Companion and Daughter have been served the following: Pho Meatball Soup for National Meatball Day (see 3-15-21), Hamadani Style Gondi Berenji, a rich soup based on a chicken broth with rice-studded meatballs (see 11-3-21), and the very delicious Syrian Meatballs in Cherry Sauce (see 1-17-23 blog) earlier this year.

Of late, a number of packages of ground meat have inhabited my often-excavated freezer. Here are some two more meatball dishes we’ve enjoyed, Italian wedding soup and Eggplant meatballs with kale (this one is meat free!). Stuffed vegetables will come in another blog.

Italian Wedding Soup with Orzo and Meatballs. The main ingredients of Italian wedding soup are meatballs and greens. While many recipes mix ground beef and ground pork, I stick with turkey.

Mix one pound of ground meat with 1/3 cup bread crumbs, 3 tbsp chopped parsely, 3 tbsp parmigiani cheese, 2 minced garlic cloves, 2 tbsp oregano, salt and pepper, and one beaten egg. The recipe recommends using a teaspoon to measure out meat for even-sized meatballs. I simply take a walnut-sized bunch of meat to shape into 1-inch balls. Put them on a large plate. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.

For the soup, put about 2 tbsp olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add one chopped white onion, one finely chopped carrot, two minced garlic cloves, salt and pepper; cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in four cups of chicken broth, one (28-ounce) can of diced tomatoes, and 2 cups water. Cover and cook ten minutes over medium heat or until soup comes to a boil.

Add the meatballs and one cup of orzo (rice-shaped pasta) to the boiling soup and stir to make sure they are fully submerged. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes over medium heat. Stir in one bunch, roughly chopped kale (I think this is traditionally made with spinach). Test a meatball and a piece of orzo to ensure that they are fully cooked; taste and adjust seasoning. Serve immediately with crusty bread

Eggplant Meatballs (from The VB6 Cookbook) for those who don’t want to eat meat. Heat the oven to 375°F. Use 1 tbsp olive oil to grease a large rimmed baking sheet, or use your trusty Silpat. Put one tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant (one pound, unpeeled, cut into 1” cubes) and 1 ⁄ 4 cup water. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the eggplant to the bowl of a food processor.

Drain and rinse one can white beans. Add the beans and ¼ cup chopped parsley to the food processor with the eggplant; pulse until well combined and chopped, but not pureed. Add one tbsp oil to the eggplant pan, then add one chopped onion and one tbsp minced garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until they’re soft and translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and one cup of breadcrumbs and red chile flakes (optional). Taste and adjust the seasoning. Roll the mixture into 12 balls about 2 inches in diameter; transfer them to the prepared pan. Bake, undisturbed, until they’re firm and well browned, 25 to 30 minutes.

We ate ours with a dish of sautéed kale, with potato wedges and a poached egg. No, I do not call this green shakshuka!

All Gone!


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