Sunday, November 13, 2011

Turbo Cooking: Meatball Mixture

I like to "turbo cook".  I like to buy bulk items, like a five pound package of ground beef, or a whole pork loin, and make several entrees out of it.  Yesterday, I thawed out a huge package of ground beef I bought this summer when it was on sale.  Out of it, I made a meatball mixture.  Out of this general recipe, I can add ingredients and make several different meals.
My batch of meatball mixture made enough meatballs to fill a jelly roll sized pan for cooking, and extra to make stuffed peppers.  I cooked off all the meatballs, and now that they are cooled, I can put them on a baking sheet, and freeze them, and then pop them in a zip lock bag and they will be seperate instead of frozen in a big lump.  I can pull out just enough for a meatball sub sandwich, or enough to make sweet and sour meatball dinner, or spaghetti and meatballs for a quick supper meal.
I use only grated onion in my meatballs, and I get this using the largest holes on the box grater.  You could certainly just waz up wedges of the onion in the food processor until you have a watery pulp.  It seems to make a moister more delicate meatball than chopped onion.
I usually don't measure when I make meatballs.  The meat is sometimes drier than others, and it is about getting the correct texture of a sticky "dough" that has enough bread crumbs in it to hold together and keep it's shape.  I may start with only 1 cup of breadcrumbs, and gently mix, and then add more breadcrumbs to make it the right consistency.  If you get your meatballs too dry, just add more Worchestershire, or a little beef stock, or more tomato paste. 

Meatball Mother Recipe

5# ground beef
small can of tomato paste, or 1/4 C catsup
3 T Worchestershire sauce
1 yellow onion, grated
2 T minced garlic
2 eggs
about 2 C Italian bread crumbs
1 tsp adobo seasoning
salt and pepper, or I use Mrs. Dash

Mix all ingredients until you achieve a sticky "dough" that will hold it's shape.  Fashion into golf ball sized meatballs, and  place in a greased pan.  Drizzle with more Worchestershire sauce, and 2 C red wine.  You can also top with v-8 or tomato juice.  You only want the liquid to come up no more than 1/3 of the way on the meatballs.  Cover with foil, and bake at 400*F for one hour.

I had about two pounds of meatball mixture left over, after filling a jelly roll sized pan with meatballs.  I can do several things with it: 
Creamy Cabbage Rolls:  I can add raw rice, and more tomato paste, and some marjoram, thyme and red pepper flakes.  I can roll this mixture up in blanched cabbage and cover it  with a can of evaporated milk mixed with a package of onion soup mix and parmesan cheese to top it.  It goes in the oven covered in foil, and bakes at 400*F for one hour. 
Salisbury Steak:  I can form the meat into oblong patties and fry it in the skillet.  This would get topped with a beef and mushroom gravy for Salisbury steak.
Oat Meatloaf with Waterchestnuts:  I can add another can of paste, a C of rolled oats, and a drained can of waterchestnuts that I have chopped to make a great meatloaf. Bake in the oven at 400*F for one hour.
Stuffed Peppers:  Last night, I chose to make stuffed peppers.  I shaved a small bit off the bottom of cleaned whole peppers that I took the tops off of, and filled them with the meatball mix.  After the peppers were full, I added 1/2 inch water to the bottom of the pan.  Cover with foil, and bake at 400*F for one hour.  There are many ways to top these.  I kept the lids intact, with the seed part removed, so I just cooked them with the tops on.  I could have topped them with buttered breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese, or I could have placed a piece of good swiss cheese over them the last few minutes of baking. 

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