01/23/14

Q&A: How to cook perfect meatballs

Perfect meatballs

Hautemealz friend Diana, asks: “What’s the best way to cook raw, ground beef meatballs so they don’t dry out?”

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Diana, here’s how I do it:

Make your meatballs an even 2 inches round, or so. Use very chilled meat and form them quickly, handling as little as possible. If you can stand it, dip your hands in ice water between meatballs. The idea is that you don’t want to “melt” the the fat in the meatball, which leads to a drier, tougher, finished product.

Also, for a moister (and more flavorful) meatball, I would recommend a 50/50 blend of ground beef (80/20 fat), and ground pork.

…and for pity’s sake, NO breadcrumbs or eggs…if you want meatloaf, just make meatloaf! Meatballs are something different.

Pan sear the meatballs on high heat in veggie oil + butter, in a large pan (don’t crowd the meatballs) until evenly browned. Drain off the excess fat and add  enough beef broth to come about 1/2 way up the meatballs, cover and simmer 5 minutes, shake the pan, cook 3 more minutes.

Remove from heat and allow to rest, lid askew, about 5 minutes.

Alternately, after the meatballs have been browned, you can finish them in the microwave. Drain the meatballs, transfer to microwave-safe bowl and add enough beef broth to come about 1/2 way up the meatballs, cover bowl with saran wrap and nuke 3 minutes, shake the bowl, nuke 2 more minutes and allow to rest, still covered, about 5 minutes.

Enjoy!

Chef Perry
hautemealz.com

01/6/14

Three Cheese Italian Style Meatballs

eOur friends at Johnsonville sent us some complimentary products for review awhile back, and one of those products was the Three Cheese Italian Style Meatballs.

(We also reviewed their Mild Italian Sausage Slices, check out the review and our recipe for Italian Sausage Potato Soup)

I will admit some skepticism, as someone who has suffered through more than his share of Big Box Store mystery-meat meatball dishes out of crock-pots and potlick casserole pans.  You know what I’m talking about…that “fake beef” flavor (1 part Worcester, 1 part beef bullion, 2 parts plastic-wrap)  In fact, I had decided that if I didn’t like them, I just wouldn’t post, as I don’t do negative reviews.

Once again, I was very pleasantly surprised. I’m telling, straight up…these meatballs taste like meatballs.

Really good meatballs!

Are they better than my Nona Perkins’ meatballs? Not a chance, but when I don’t have 14 hours to prepare Grandma’s recipe…I’d be happy to serve these.

As important as the favor, the consistency is right…it FEELS like meatball. None of that over-processed “soft-meat” mushiness, These feel like finely ground beef, firm and solid without being dry or mealy.

Pasta sauce with meatballs is a no-brainer, but I can’t wait to try these with my Meatball Pho, and Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches, as well!

However, for this test, I decided to earn a few brownie points and make one of my wife’s favorites, Sloppy Joes…

(One thing I really like about this recipe is that it’s less “sloppy” than the  traditional ground-meat Joes. If you’re in a big hurry, a canned “Thick & Chunky” sloppy joe sauce will work…but it’s not going to be as good as this!)

Oh, and my wife said these were the best sloppy joes she’s ever had. So there!

a

The Amazing Sloppy John(sonville)
1/2 bag of Johnsonville Three Cheese Italian Style Meatballs, thawed
4 soft pub rolls, split
4 tsp. butter, softened
1 cup shredded mozzerella cheese

For the sauce:
2 tsp. Better Than Bullion Beef Base
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 diced green bell pepper
3 cups hot water, divided
3/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
dash of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon  each salt and ground black pepper

Slice meatballs into thirds, and brown in a pan with a little oil, until edges are crisp. Set aside.

f

Place 1 cup of the hot water, beef base and onions into a large skillet and put over medium heat. Cook stirring until the onions begin to brown and the broth is reduced by half.

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Add the garlic and green pepper; cook stirring for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of water. Bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan with a spatula to dissolve any browned bits.

c

Stir in the ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, Worcestershire, salt, pepper, and last cup of water. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30-45 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been evaporated. Add the sliced meatballs, stir, top with cheese, and let rest 10 minutes (off heat) until thick, rich and tender.

While the meat and sauce are resting, butter the split pub rolls, and brown lightly in a hot, dry pan.

b

Assemble sandwiches and served with crispy fries and bread & butter pickle chips (optional)

Note: Double the sauce recipe (it freezes great) and make this dish in a flash, next time!

Enjoy!

-Chef Perry