Thursday, June 3, 2010

Meatballs XI

Meatballs three days in a row!!! We had meatballs again last night. OK, maybe tonight I will make something else. I saw a most unusual meatball recipe using peaches and knew I had to make it. It was from this cookbook

The meat mixture was pretty standard, containing breadcrumbs, parsley, onions and garlic, but it was the sauce that absolutely transformed this dish! The browned meatballs were simmered in this sauce made from caramelized sugar, butter, browned pears, sherry vinegar, broth, cinnamon and toasted pine nuts. It was like a really, really amazing rendition of familiar sweet-and-sour flavors. I also made a standard Spanish side of spinach with pine nuts and raisins. The wine was an Albarino from Spain, which turned out to be a little too delicate to stand up to the robust flavors of the meatball sauce. Perhaps a heavier white, like a slightly oakey Viognier would have been a better match. I offered the remains of an apple gallete to Dave, but he said he didn't need dessert because the peaches in the sweet sauce was dessert-y enough!

Meatballs X

I finally cooked out of a cookbook I'd owned forever and never used.

Earlier, I had passed up on the meatball recipe in there before because the meatballs are poached, and I thought, boiled meatballs can't be any good! However, after meatballs IX, which were roasted in an oven, I became more open to new ways of cooking meatballs so I decided to give these ones a try. Besides, the meatballs are poached in broth, which can't be all that bad!

The beef mixture was flavored with parsley, cloves and nutmeg, and the meatballs were poached very slowly, the recipe instructing you to keep the broth simmering "at a tremble". Wow! They came out really light, almost like dumplings! They were served with horseradish sauce and some more of the cabbage from our previous meal the day before (meatballs IX - yes, we had meatballs two days in a row).

Meatballs IX

I acquired a new cookbook:

and when Dave asked, "Is it time for more meatballs?" I looked in my new cookbook and found a recipe for lamb meatballs. Unlike all the previous recipes where the meatballs are browned in oil in a pan on the stovetop, this recipe instructs you to cook the meatballs spread out on a parchment-lined baking sheet in the oven. Mixed in with the ground lamb was sauteed chopped shallots, garlic & zucchini, as well as fresh chopped mint and (this is the ingredient that makes the dish) preserved lemons. I had made a big jar of lemons preserved in lemon juice and salt years ago, and it was one of the best thing I ever did. It keeps in the fridge forever and I use it in stews, salads, and recipes such as this one requiring unusual ingredients. Dave liked the meatballs, he said it had good meat flavor. I also made a garlic-yoghurt mix to go with the meatballs, and side dishes of brussel sprouts and sauteed cabbage. The wine was a Cline Small Berry Mouvedre that we had acquired on a recent trip to Sonoma county. It was delicious, but we decided to let the rest of the bottles age for a few more years to bring out the complexity in the wine.

Dessert was an apple galette, paired with a late harvest Sauvignon Blanc from Dry Creek Vineyard. I had a nice time sipping it while sight-reading Jerome Kern on the piano. I sight read much better with a glass of wine! It was a nice end to a long Memorial Day weekend.

Meatballs VIII

Here's a recipe that seemed unlikely, but turned out to be one of those things whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It's from one of Marcella Hazan's cookbooks:

The recipe for "Pork balls with beans and tomatoes" instruct you to serve the dish with polenta, which seems a little strange, considering that there was already plenty of starch in the form of cranberry beans (I used navy beans instead) in the meatball stew. But, I do love polenta (perhaps because I love grits from having gone to school in the south) so I did as instructed. The other change I made was to add some beet greens I had been saving (the beetroots had been roasted and eaten a few days earlier) to the stew for the last 15 minutes of cooking. Wow! The combination of the meatball stew, the greens, and the polenta was hearty and satisfying. Dave said that the beet greens were the best part, because they had picked up all the flavors of the meatball stew.

The wine was made from Lagrein grapes from Jacuzzi in Sonoma. It was very purple and hearty, perfect for the meal.