Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Recommended Posts

So, does everyone fry up a little meatball to check on the seasonings before making the entire batch?

I actually use the microwave. It's only about testing the seasoning and its quite fast.

I imagine that works quite well - if I had a microwave, I might do it that way as well.

Of course, I try to get some browning going when I make meatballs, which might affect the way they taste - if only a little.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Link to post
Share on other sites
Not sure it's the opposite, just another point in the middle somewhere. I want the emulsion but not something the consistency of kielbasa.

I am in the impression that soaked breadcrumbs help the meatball stay tender and that it makes it almost impossible to overwork them. Am I deluding myself?

Because I'm lazy, I never work meatballs preparation longer than needed anyway so it is essentially a theoretical question.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I am in the impression that soaked breadcrumbs help the meatball stay tender and that it makes it almost impossible to overwork them. Am I deluding myself?

No. You're correct. There's a chemical reaction that takes place between the milk and the bread that, when blended into the meat, helps to keep it soft when cooked. I'm sure an SSB will pop in with the proper name for the reaction.

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

Link to post
Share on other sites
So, does everyone fry up a little meatball to check on the seasonings before making the entire batch?

Yep -- or stick it on a plate and toss it in the microwave for a few seconds.

That's pretty disgusting to microwave it. You can just eat it raw before nuking it.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I am in the impression that soaked breadcrumbs help the meatball stay tender and that it makes it almost impossible to overwork them. Am I deluding myself?

No. You're correct. There's a chemical reaction that takes place between the milk and the bread that, when blended into the meat, helps to keep it soft when cooked. I'm sure an SSB will pop in with the proper name for the reaction.

Hmmmm. I'm no SSB, but I think it's called... what's an SSB?

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Link to post
Share on other sites
I finally prepared, cooked and froze my meatballs yesterday. I am very pleased with the result.

The main ingredients were ground beef and veal, breadcrumbs (2/3 of them soaked in milk), cooked thinly chopped onion and celery, eggs and chicken fat and drippings (from a chicken I cooked previously). The other flavouring ingredients: garlic, sage, chive, parsley, anchovies, paprika, ground coriander seeds, salt, black pepper, and, for a lack of cayenne pepper, I also added chipotle chili flakes.

Tomato sauce is an obvious choice to turn these meatball into a meal, particularly with a bit of pasta, rice or other grains. Any other interesting options?

* coat them in a light breading and deep fry them.

* cook in a wine sauce

* in broth or stock, with some pasta and vegetables, or maybe dumplings or ravioli

I like mine with a mixture of ground pork, veal and mortadella. Onion, garlic, parsley, a pinch of nutmeg, a little milk for sweetness, breadcrumbs and egg for binding.

Link to post
Share on other sites
So, does everyone fry up a little meatball to check on the seasonings before making the entire batch?

Yep -- or stick it on a plate and toss it in the microwave for a few seconds.

That's pretty disgusting to microwave it. You can just eat it raw before nuking it.

Do you usually eat raw pork? :shock: Beef, maybe even veal, but PORK? Sorry, my meatball mix gets cooked before tasting!

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

Link to post
Share on other sites
Do you usually eat raw pork?  :shock: Beef, maybe even veal, but  PORK? Sorry, my meatball mix gets cooked before tasting!

Raw pork -- raw veal -- just about anything you can put in a meatball can be eaten raw by the cook with no ill side effects. Even after the egg(s) are mixed in! Even before I could cook I would sneak some raw ground meat to eat with s/p. It was a secret shame for years, but I've accepted it.

Poor pork still has a lot of bad safety press. The animals we eat today are much different than the piggies of yester-year.

Rhonda

Link to post
Share on other sites

Do you usually eat raw pork?  :shock: Beef, maybe even veal, but  PORK? Sorry, my meatball mix gets cooked before tasting!

Raw pork -- raw veal -- just about anything you can put in a meatball can be eaten raw by the cook with no ill side effects. Even after the egg(s) are mixed in! Even before I could cook I would sneak some raw ground meat to eat with s/p. It was a secret shame for years, but I've accepted it.

Poor pork still has a lot of bad safety press. The animals we eat today are much different than the piggies of yester-year.

Rhonda

I've ALWAYS eaten raw ground beef, and I realize that pigs are raised differently now, but the idea of raw pork just doesn't work for me. When I make meatloaf of all beef, I'll eat so much raw mix that half the time I don't want dinner! :raz:

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

Link to post
Share on other sites
So, does everyone fry up a little meatball to check on the seasonings before making the entire batch?

Yep -- or stick it on a plate and toss it in the microwave for a few seconds.

That's pretty disgusting to microwave it. You can just eat it raw before nuking it.

Not sure what's disgusting about it, unless you find the entire concept of microwaves disgusting. I don't cook and serve them that way, after all. It's just a dirty-pan reduction mechanism: when I'm making meatballs I have enough things to wash as it is. You get a sense of the seasoning and texture quickly and easily.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

Link to post
Share on other sites
So, does everyone fry up a little meatball to check on the seasonings before making the entire batch?

Yep -- or stick it on a plate and toss it in the microwave for a few seconds.

That's pretty disgusting to microwave it. You can just eat it raw before nuking it.

Not sure what's disgusting about it, unless you find the entire concept of microwaves disgusting. I don't cook and serve them that way, after all. It's just a dirty-pan reduction mechanism: when I'm making meatballs I have enough things to wash as it is. You get a sense of the seasoning and texture quickly and easily.

Microwaving meat gives you a sense of the texture of the meatball?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Forgive me, but what's the problem with microwaving a meatball? I've been making meatballs in the microwave for 12 years and have had nothing but raves about the texture. 6 at a time in a glass pie plate... 3 minutes... flip... 2-3 minutes more... into the warm sauce waiting on the stove. (I also safeguard against dryness by using bread soaked in milk and a box of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry, in my mixture.)

Link to post
Share on other sites

For meatballs that go in a red sauce I use a Mario Batali recipe similar to the one quoted above, but he specifies toasted pine nuts in the one I have, and that's a yummy addition. I also cut way back on the parm--too cheesy for my taste.

I like using a simple Italian white bread rather than breadcrumbs, soaking it in milk and squeezing some of the milk out before adding it to the meat.

And this week I tried something new: I made the chicken meatballs from last Sunday's NYT magazine "Cooking with Dexter." I served them as suggested with a cucumber raita and made a simple mixed veg curry to go with. I was surprised at how good the meatballs were. Who woulda thunk it.

I always saute my meatballs and I never make a test one.

Link to post
Share on other sites

My favourite meatball recipe ("Indian" flavoured) has mashed potato as the starchy bit. Great texture.

Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

Link to post
Share on other sites

I make small appetizer meatballs with ground lamb, seasoned with a little allspice and cumin, fresh mint, some dried currants--plus the usual bread/egg binder ratio. Serve with a bowl of yogurt mixed with more fresh mint and lemon juice for dipping w/ toothpicks.

I'm also a fan of baking them on a sheet pan, much less mess. High heat, as Chris mentioned, don't crowd them, and give them a shake/turn halfway through. The small meatballs cook fast, so taste one after 5 minutes to see how they're doing. Usually they need a couple of minutes more.


Link to post
Share on other sites

I reheated my frozen meatballs in a tomato sauce but this process made the delicate caramelized crust completely disapear. I think I'll return them under the broiler for a few seconds next time.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I am in the impression that soaked breadcrumbs help the meatball stay tender and that it makes it almost impossible to overwork them. Am I deluding myself?

No. You're correct. There's a chemical reaction that takes place between the milk and the bread that, when blended into the meat, helps to keep it soft when cooked. I'm sure an SSB will pop in with the proper name for the reaction.

Hmmmm. I'm no SSB, but I think it's called... what's an SSB?

SSB is a term that's been bandied about on this board for ages.

Smug Scientific Bastard = SSB

Of course, it's said with love. :wink::laugh:

edited to add that this reaction may have been discussed in the May 2003 issue of Cook's Illustrated. By Googling I've found it's posted on their web site but since I'm not a member I'm not privvy to the information.

Edited by Toliver (log)

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...
I am in the impression that soaked breadcrumbs help the meatball stay tender and that it makes it almost impossible to overwork them. Am I deluding myself?

No. You're correct. There's a chemical reaction that takes place between the milk and the bread that, when blended into the meat, helps to keep it soft when cooked. I'm sure an SSB will pop in with the proper name for the reaction.

It used to be that you couldn't walk the halls of eGullet without bumping into an SSB ready with an eager answer but times change, I guess.

I stumbled upon the correct name for the mixture (not for the reaction itself) in the March-April 2008 issue of Cook's Illustrated (such a deal!...buy the 2008 annual and get the 2007 annual for free). The answer was in a sidebar for their recipe titled Simple Italian-Style Meat Sauce.

The milk-bread combo is called a panade. According to the CI SSB's ( :wink: ), here's why it works:

Starches from the bread absorb liquid from the milk to form a gel that coats and lubricates the protein molecules in the meat, much in the same way as fat, keeping them moist and preventing them from linking together to form a tough matrix.

They go on to say that mixing the meat and panade in a food processor helps to make sure that the starch is well dispersed into the meat. It seems counter-intuitive because you would think mixing the meat in the food processor would make the meat tough but because of the panade, it doesn't.

Of course, this makes me wonder why use milk? Why not use just water or another liquid of your choice? Or is there something (fat, perhaps?) in the milk that helps make the meat tender?

edited to clarify

Edited by Toliver (log)

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

Link to post
Share on other sites
Is it possible to make a good meatball without any carb-related product (panade, breadcrumbs, etc)?

I do it all the time. The starch, as I understand it, acts as both a binder and a lightener. I find egg works fine for both purposes. Your meatballs will be a little harder to work with, but they'll happen. Don't pack them too tight and they come out fine.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to post
Share on other sites

The best meatballs I've had lately are the lamb meatballs at Beacon restaurant in New York City. I asked for the recipe and, as luck would have it, I wound up going into the restaurant to make them. This is the recipe as adapted for home cooking:

+++

Beacon’s Lamb Meatballs

By Chef/Co-Owner Waldy Malouf, Beacon Restaurant, NYC

Makes about 24 x 2" meatballs

3 pounds ground lamb (not too lean)

2 cloves garlic (finely minced)

3 eggs

1/2 cup finely minced onion

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 cup breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 tablespoon chopped mint

1/2 cup aged Pecorino Romano

1 cup Greek style yogurt (Lebnah)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup olive oil

1 quart tomato juice

Combine meatball ingredients. Mix by hand until mixture hold its shape. Shape into meatballs (2” in diameter). In a large skillet, heat olive oil and brown the meatballs in batches. Place meatballs in a casserole and cover with tomato juice, bring to a simmer and braise for 30 minutes. Serve with cheese polenta, baby greens, and freshly grated Parmesan.

+++

For those interested in seeing how it's done in the restaurant kitchen, there's a post on the Beacon topic with some photos.

The major difference between the restaurant method and the instructions above involves grinding the meat. In the restaurant, they take chunks of lamb shoulder (chuck) and put them through a grinder, and they add the garlic, onion and herbs into the grinder whole or in chunks, and those ingredients get incorporated right into the ground meat.

Also as usual in restaurants they do things by weight. So they make their meatballs around 2 ounces. I imagine the 2" meatballs specified above are slightly larger. If you have a scale you can experiment.

For browning, in the restaurant, they use significantly more than a cup of oil. But that's for a 10-pound batch. Still, they use more.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...