Well now…..how do I follow up on those amazing shirred eggs? What epitome of blogging can I reach, after a feature on The Kitchn page of Apartment Therapy, days in a row of well over a thousand hits per day on the blog, a Twitter post that ran rampant with RT’s and an endless run of traffic to my Flickr page?
By posting about meatballs. Whooo boy….I know how to maintain a mighty pace, don’t I? Maybe I should create a meatball with a baked egg inside of it. Life would be good then, wouldn’t it? I might just go out on top, revel in all that eggy glory. My husband would be even more thrilled then. (psssst…..he hates eggs. The popularity of that egg post was almost too much for him.)
So I had put off posting on these meatballs, even though they were a reality back when the calendar read 2009, because, well….they’re meatballs. They’re not that inspiring. Good thing those eggs came along to beat it off the top of the queue. There are some people to whom a meatball is worthy of culinary greatness, but really, they’re nothing more than chunks of meat and seasonings, baked to perfection, seared in a skillet or simmered in potent broth. Not too special, are they? And once finished they don’t really stand up and pose all that well. Photographing them wasn’t exactly the most anticipatory item on my To-Do list. I was too busy being gape-mouthed at what madness had been stirred up by those eggs.
But then, I remembered how these meatballs tasted. Oh Lord, they were delicious.
But they normally would join soup, stew and chicken as the dishes that I just can’t make myself photograph, and yet for whatever reason, once I put these on a plate and adjusted the light in the room, they really jumped out at me and made themselves heard. Good thing, I suppose, as the January issue of Bon Appétit magazine boldly claims the humble Meatball as it’s Dish of the Year and throws out no less than five ways to make them for yourself. As if we need any proof. Commencing Meatball Education 101.
Simply because I love the name Albondigas, as the Spanish apparently call a meatball, I zeroed in on that recipe to start my more thorough meatball training, which may be furthered through Spicy Pork Meatball Banh Mi, a delightful All’amatriciana meatball dish, the Lamb Köfte and then end, happily stuffed by all things meat, tiny and round, with the Morrocan Meatball Tagine. I’m pretty sure that Griffin will be glazing over in joy when our lessons are finalized.
Is it possible that having a good background helps with proper meatball photography?
The original recipe in the magazine is an Ancho Chile Soup with Poblano Albondigas, but I knew that those little orbs of ground meat and roasted poblano chiles would be just as delicious all on their own, and with some young house-guests coming for a few days, I needed something simple, but filling, and desirable to both the youngest, who was not quite two years old, and both the adults.
These meatballs had immense flavor from the cumin and oregano, and the subtle flavor of roasted chiles. I think a roasted jalapeno would really make these more intense. Instead of making them in a soup, I baked them under a layer of fire-roasted tomato sauce, and to give them some substance, I added about a cup of rice to the meat mixture. Our sweet niece Nina ate so much of it that she languished happily on my lap, her toddler belly stuffed and round, satiation apparent on her cherubic face, and her 9-year old brother, who initially shook his head at the offering actually went back for seconds. Our meatball learning has happily begun.
From Bon Appétit magazine, January 2010
2 large, fresh poblano chiles, split in half, cored and seeded
1# ground beef (15% fat recommended)
1/2 c. coarsely grated zucchini
1/4 c. finely grated onion
1/4 c. Panko breadcrumbs
1 large egg, beaten to blend
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 t. dried mexican oregano
1 T. ground cumin
1/2 t. kosher salt
Heat oven to Broil. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and lay the peppers on it. Spray the peppers. Broil, watching closely, until skins are charred and blackened. Remove from oven and place in bowl, then cover with plastic wrap. Allow to steam until cool, then peel the charred skin away and finely chop the peppers.
Mix beef with peppers and remaining ingredients. Using moistened hands, shape mixture into 1″ balls, about a tablespoon each. Place on foil covered rimmed cookie sheet and bake at 375° until cooked through, about 20-25 minutes.
I used ground turkey in place of the ground beef. You won’t get much fat run-off at all with that substitution. I did not have any zucchini on hand so I shredded some spinach and added that instead. It was a wonderful flavor. I think that adding some corn puree to this recipe would be amazing- half a cup of corn blended in a food processor with just enough liquid to make a coarse puree. If doing so, more breadcrumbs would be necessary to hold the mixture together. Hmmmm….next time?