LAMB MEATBALLS, SLOW-COOKER VERSION

One of the things I don’t like to do in the kitchen is peeling hazelnuts. The other is frying stuff. Not for concerns with fat intake, which don’t bother me even slightly, but for the mess it makes on the stove and the lingering smell in the kitchen. It probably explains why I ended up getting an air-fryer. Wait, who am I trying to fool? I have a weak spot for cooking gadgets…  Anyway, whenever I find a method that circumvents the need for frying stuff, I am on it. Most recipes for meatballs insist you must brown them on a frying pan. Not this one. And the result is a super tender lamb meatball, that seems to soak the flavor of the tomato sauce better than traditional versions. Plus, the fact that it cooks unattended in the crock pot is a bonus. After forming the meatballs, your work is pretty much done.

SLOW-COOKER LAMB MEATBALLS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 pound ground lamb
1/3 cup almond flour
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk, beaten
grated zest or 1/2 large lemon
½ teaspoon ground cumin
fresh parsley leaves, to taste (about 1/4 cup)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 + 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
28-ounce can whole tomatoes
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Gently combine the lamb, almond flour, beaten egg and yolk, cumin, cinnamon, parsley, lemon zest, and 1 teaspoon of salt in a large bowl.

​Put the tomatoes and red pepper flakes into slow cooker. Break up the tomatoes with a potato masher. Season it with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Form the meat mixture into meatballs, make them slightly bigger than golf-ball size. Drop them gently in the tomato sauce.

Cook on LOW for 4 hours, serve with any side dish you like. 

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This recipe works better with larger meatballs, so they don’t turn into mush through the long cooking. Two make a very nice portion for dinner, so by cooking a full batch we can have either a repeat dinner later in the week, or… my favorite thing: leftovers for lunch!

You can use breadcrumbs instead of almond flour if you prefer. I tend to go with almond flour because it’s lower in carbs and I like the slightly nutty taste it gives to the meatballs. On my second time making this recipe, I added Sriracha to the ground lamb mixture. If you like some extra heat, give it a try.  I bet gojuchang sauce could be a winner too.

But, before I leave you….

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

(October 2009)

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Elaine’s Sourdough Boule

TWO YEARS AGO: Zucchini, Lemon and Walnut Cake

THREE YEARS AGO: Paleo Energy Bars

FOUR YEARS AGO: Pecan-Crusted Chicken with Honey Mustard Dressing

FIVE YEARS AGO: Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Burgers

SIX YEARS AGO:  Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Clay-pot Pork Roast

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Panmarino

NINE YEARS AGO: A Classic Roast Chicken

HONEY GLAZED SRIRACHA MEATBALLS

This one is for all the Sriracha lovers out there. Of all the hot sauces, Sriracha is my favorite because it’s not just about heat, there’s a lot of complex flavor packed in too. I always have a bottle in the fridge, and will squirt a little bit over turkey burgers, regular burgers, sweet potato fries, meatballs. Not too much, just that little touch that shakes the senses up. When I saw this recipe a while ago on Eat Yourself Skinny, I tried it almost immediately, with a few changes to suit my preferences. Phil is not as wild about Sriracha as I am, so I did the honorable thing to do, and wolfed them down by myself for lunch. No, not in a single day. I am crazy for Sriracha but portion control comes first…

HONEY GLAZED SRIRACHA MEATBALLS
(adapted from Eat Yourself Skinny)

for the meatballs:
2 lb. ground chicken (or turkey)
1/4 cup almond flour
1 egg
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
a squirt of lemon juice

for the sauce:
¼ cup Sriracha
3 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
3 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
½ tsp. toasted sesame oil
minced chives for decoration (optional)

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix together ground chicken, almond flour, egg, salt and pepper until well combined. Shape mixture into  balls and place spaced apart on a baking sheet lightly sprayed with cooking spray or covered with parchment paper.

Bake meatballs for 20 to 25 minutes, or until browned and cooked through.

While the meatballs are baking, combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking continuously. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, then toss with the meatballs.

Sprinkle with minced chives, if so desired.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: These turned out hot enough for me, but you can always add some cayenne pepper or increase the amount of Sriracha if feeling particularly brave.  I love adding a dollop of yogurt (seasoned with salt and za’tar) to these meatballs, because I find the contrast of peppery heat with cold, creamy yogurt very pleasing. The best advice to making good meatballs is to avoid handling the mixture too much, the looser the better. And don’t cook them to death. Dried meatballs are simply no bueno.  I never fry them anymore, prefer to cook them in the oven, but for this recipe I made the sauce in a skillet and simply added the cooked meatballs to the sauce for a nice glaze. Winner, my friends, winner!

Pinning is sharing, sharing is caring! 

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

ONE YEAR AGO: Slow-cooker Braised Lamb Shanks

TWO YEARS AGO: How about some coffee with your steak?

THREE YEARS AGO: Celebrate Wednesday with a Spiral Kick

FOUR YEARS AGO: Carrot Flan with Greens and Lemon Vinaigrette

FIVE YEARS AGO: Granola Bars

SIX YEARS AGO:  Awesome Broccolini

SEVEN YEARS AGO:  A Twist on Pesto

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Ciabatta: Judging a bread by its holes

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

RICOTTA MEATBALLS

Vegetarians will have to forgive me, but I firmly believe a person cannot have too many meatball recipes.  They cook quickly, can be served with many different types of sauces, and leftovers taste as good or better as the first time around.  This version was originally published in The Meatball Shop Cookbook, but it is also available online. I added my own twist to it, using almond flour instead of bread crumbs.  I don’t have gluten allergies, just happen to love playing new twists on a classic.

Ricotta Meatballs copy

CLASSIC RICOTTA MEATBALLS
(adapted from this version)

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds 80% lean ground beef
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
about 2 cups simple tomato sauce (store-bought or home-made)

Heat the oven to 425°F.

Combine by gently beating together the ricotta, eggs, almond flour, parsley, oregano, salt, red pepper flakes, and fennel in a large mixing bowl.  When the mixture seems homogeneous, add the ground beef and mix by hand until  incorporated.

Roll the mixture into round, golf ball-size meatballs and place on a rack over a baking dish, allowing some space in between them.  Roast for 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are firm and cooked through.

While the meatballs are roasting, heat the tomato sauce in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring often. Add the meatballs to the saucepan, and simmer gently for 10 minutes.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click

CompositeMeatballs

Comments: I do not remember the last time I fried a meatball.  Baking works so much better! I am not even talking about excess fat consumption, but the whole preparation is much more user-friendly.  Recently I found this cute baking dish with an insert that is perfect for cooking meatballs, as they sit elevated and the hot air circulates all around them.  No need to mess with them once you start baking.  After they are brown and almost cooked through, I add them to my sauce of choice, simmering them gently until serving time.

The almond flour and the ricotta gave these meatballs a wonderful texture, creamy but not at all heavy.  You can make them smaller if you prefer, but I like them to be more substantial.  The tomato sauce I used was very simply prepared: a can of tomatoes simmered with sautéed shallots, celery, and carrots.  Salt and pepper. A touch of orange zest at the end.

Almond flour is not cheap, but where we live for some odd reason every once in a while it goes on sale.  When that happens,  I grab a couple of bags and stick them in the freezer.  It is a wonderful ingredient for both sweet and savory dishes.  One of my favorite cakes ever is this one, in which the almond flour shines in all its nutty glory.  😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Farro Salad with Roasted Leeks

TWO YEARS AGO: It all started with a roof

THREE YEARS AGO: Carrot and Sweet Potato Puree

FOUR YEARS AGO: Impromptu Pasta Dinner

A SECOND TASTE OF HOME COOKING

On my most recent adventure in The Secret Recipe Club,  I had a hard time deciding between two recipes from my assigned blog,  “A Taste of Home Cooking”.  I went with Orange and Rosemary Pork Tenderloin,  but couldn’t wait to make possibility number 2, a recipe that took me straight back to my California days.

This might surprise you, but when I arrived in the US for the first time in 1986,  both me and my former husband had zero experience with frozen dinners, as they didn’t exist in Brazil back then.  We were amazed!  Those cute little boxes ready to warm up and enjoy, so many options, so convenient!  We went TV-dinner-crazy, trying all sorts of brands and styles of cuisine.  Once the thrill of  the novelty passed,  we went back to our regular approach of home-cooked meals, but I never lost a soft spot for “Swedish Meatballs with Noodles”.  That little frozen box, and Velveeta (there, I said it!)  are a bit disturbing for a food blogger to love, but…  I am guilty on both counts. I’ve got nothing to say  in my defense about Velveeta, but I’m redeeming myself on frozen dinners with this home-cooked version of a favorite classic.

SWEDISH MEATBALLS AND EGG NOODLES
( from A Taste of Home Cooking, original recipe from Rachael Ray)

for the meatballs:
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
1 small onion, finely chopped  (I used 1 shallot)
A few drops Worcestershire sauce (I used 1 tsp)
Salt and pepper

for the sauce:
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup dry sherry
1 cup beef broth
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup sour cream (I reduced to 1/4 cup)

1 bag wide egg noodles (I used fettuccine)
1 tablespoon butter

Heat the oven to 400 F.

Mix all the ingredients for the meatballs in a bowl, and form bite-size balls, placing them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, turning them midway through cooking time.

As the meatballs bake,  boil water for the pasta and start preparing the sauce.  Melt the  butter over medium heat, sprinkle the flour over it, and cook for a couple of minutes,  whisking constantly.  Slowly add sherry and whisk until the sauce reduces by half. Add beef broth in a slow stream and continue stirring until the sauce thickens enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon. Turn off heat and add salt and pepper to taste,  Dijon mustard and sour cream.

Once the noodles are cooked, drain them and toss with butter.  Turn a low heat under the sauce to gently warm it,  add the baked meatballs to the sauce, stir to coat, and serve over pasta.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  This was a delicious meal, quick and simple to prepare.  Next time, I will make two small adjustments: bake the meatballs slightly less, so they will be lighter in color, and use the full amount of sour cream in the sauce.

Just as I expected, this meal brought memories of my first few months in the US, when I could barely communicate in English,  and struggled to adjust to a new environment.  I had no idea that 26  years later I’d be writing a blog about it, especially because the term blog didn’t exist.  😉

If A Taste of Home Cooking is not on your list of blogs to visit, jump right over, she’s got a ton of great recipes to share!

ONE YEAR AGO: Italian Easter Pie

TWO YEARS AGO: Black Olive Bialy

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

SPANAKOPITA MEATBALLS: NO SECRET!

Four months ago I joined “The Secret Recipe Club”, and my first assignment was making a recipe from the moderator of our group, Tami’s Kitchen Table Talk.   I picked this recipe as my first choice, but her “Spanakopita Meatballs” were a serious contender.  First, the meatballs seem perfect for a light dinner or even for an appetizer, if made small and served with toothpicks. Plus,  I love the name spanakopita…  spanakopita…  a happy word, always makes me smile! 😉
I  combined Greece with Italy and enjoyed them with pasta in tomato sauce perfumed with orange zest.
SPANAKOPITA MEATBALLS
(adapted from Tami’s Kitchen Table Talk)

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, grated
1 clove garlic, minced
1 box frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 lb ground turkey
1/2 tsp fennel seeds, ground

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Defrost the spinach in the microwave, then place in a kitchen towel and squeeze to remove all the excess water. Place in a large mixing bowl with the rest of the ingredients and mix well, but don’t over mix, or the meatballs will get tough.

Roll into balls the size you prefer (I made 16 balls 1.5 inches in diameter), and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (or foil lightly sprayed with olive oil).  Bake for 12 minutes, turn them around and bake for 15 more minutes, or until cooked all the way through (it will depend on the size of the meatballs).

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I don’t even remember the last time I fried a meatball.  Using the oven is soooo much easier, all meatballs are ready at the same time, there’s no extra oil added to the recipe, and clean up is a breeze if you protect your baking sheet with foil.  Sometimes I use a rack like you see in this photo (these are pork meatballs with fennel, by the way), to encourage browning all around, but it’s not mandatory.  I’ve been on a meatball kick lately, trying all sorts of recipes and improvising a bit too.   But the “Happy Spanakopita” are still at the pole position. And, by the way, did you know that the term pole position originated in horse racing?  Live and learn…

ONE YEAR AGO: Saturday Morning Scones

TWO YEARS AGO: Pain de Mie au Levain

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

SHOW-STOPPING SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS

If you’re tempted to skip  this post because spaghetti and meatballs are too pedestrian, don’t do it!   This was the best dinner I’ve cooked in weeks!   The first bite took me back to a small Italian trattoria where I had this dish years ago.  These meatballs are tender, moist, flavorful, and the tomato sauce (note: contains neither onion nor garlic) gets a lift from the addition of capers. It’s so simple  that you’ll be shocked at how flavorful it is! The recipe comes from the latest issue of Food and Wine, with small modifications that,  modesty aside,  worked quite well.  It was a perfect dinner-date recipe for Saturday night.  Uncork the chianti and let the music play

SPAGHETTI AND ITALIAN MEATBALLS IN TOMATO CAPER SAUCE
(adapted from Food and Wine, original recipe from Massimiliano Alajmo)

for the sauce:
1 can of whole, peeled tomatoes (28 oz)
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs capers, drained and chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper

for the meatballs:
1/2 cup white bread, crust removed, roughly diced
3-5 Tbs milk
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground beef
1 egg, beaten
8 pitted kalamata olives, diced
1/8 cup freshly grated Parmiggiano cheese
2 Tbs fresh parsley leaves, minced
1 tsp salt

Puree the tomatoes in a blender or food processor.  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, add the capers and oregano.  Simmer for a couple more minutes, season with salt and pepper and keep warm while you prepare the meatballs.

Cover the bread with milk: soak it well.  Drain any excess and reserve the bread.  In a large bowl, mix both types of meat, add the softened bread, egg, olives, cheese, parsley, and salt.  Wet your hands with cold water and very gently form the mixture into 1.5 inch diameter meatballs.  You can prepare the meatballs  hours in advance.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or aluminum foil) and bake the meatballs in a 400F oven for 20 minutes, turning them once during baking.  Remove them from the oven, and transfer to the skillet with the tomato sauce.  Gently simmer the meatballs and sauce together for 10 to 15 minutes over gentle heat.

Meanwhile, boil some spaghetti, drain, place back in the pan and add some of the tomato sauce. Place back on top of the stove to heat pasta and sauce together for a couple of minutes. Transfer to a serving dish, add the meatballs, and serve with fresh Parmiggiano cheese.

(makes 15 meatballs, 3-4 servings, depending on who is eating…  😉

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: My modifications involved baking, instead of frying the meatballs, and simmering them in tomato sauce afterward.   This is my secret to great meatballs, without the harsh outer surface often associated with the fried version.   I’ve seen (and tried) recipes in which the meatballs are cooked in the sauce from beginning to end, but the   oven-roasting in my version intensifies their flavor and color.

I also increased the amount of black olives in the meatball mixture.  The original recipe called for two olives (!!!!).   Sorry, but two diced olives in a pound of meat doesn’t do it for us, Kalamata-lovers that we are.  Feel free to adapt to your own tastes.

Chef Alajmo has two other recipes that made my mouth water in this issue of Food and Wine: Risotto with Capers and Espresso, and Pappardelle with Smoked Butter and Herbs.  Makes me want to catch a plane to Italy and reserve a table for two at his restaurant, Le Calandre.

ONE YEAR AGO:  Korean-Style Pork with Cabbage Slaw

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine