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Help with Meatballs
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2005 6:06 pm    Post subject: Help with Meatballs Reply with quote

I did meatballs yesterday to use up some chopped meat and to have some ready meals on hand. I did golfball-sized ones for pasta and sandwiches and something between hazelnut- and walnut-sized ones with rice for soup.

I like my meatballs. They're very tasty. But they're NOT pretty. I, privately, think of them as meatBLOBS. Anyone got any hint for keeping them nice and round during the browning and for getting them a nice, uniform caramelization?
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Pesto Man



Joined: 17 Jun 2005
Posts: 185
Location: New Orleans Louisiana

PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2005 6:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wierd...I made meatballs yesterday, too while not giving you enough caremelization I brown my off in a 350 oven for approx 10 min, this helps them keep their shape, this also helps eliminate the fat, ....perhaps you could start in then oven then pan fry to get a more uniform carmelization
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2005 7:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh that's interesting. I'm going to try it! I've always done the opposite: browned them and then put them in the oven or in sauce to finish.
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Sarape



Joined: 15 Dec 2004
Posts: 583
Location: Anniston Alabama USA

PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2005 8:22 pm    Post subject: Re: Help with Meatballs Reply with quote

Rainey wrote:
Anyone got any hint for keeping them nice and round during the browning and for getting them a nice, uniform caramelization?


Buy the ones pre-cooked and vacuum sealed in the plastic bag. Put whole package in boiling water for ten minutes. Presto, perfect meatballs. Wink
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birgit



Joined: 31 Jan 2005
Posts: 247
Location: Germany

PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2005 8:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spontaneously I would suggest to form them with very wet hands to smooth the surface, but it could be that the different meat particles develop differently so that the form doesn't stay as even as before.
I've also heard of pig belly's fat tissue (don't know the exact english expression, but there's a picture here: http://www.stern.de/lifestyle/kueche/538437.html?eid=538128 ) They say that the fat melts and keeps anything wrapped inside nicely succulent) I've never tried that, though, sounds like having to spend a lot of time with wrapping (maybe I'll try that at some luxurious day ... Wink ). I mostly soak about half a bread roll (or a whole one, depending on the amount of the meat) in a little milk, squeeze it a little and add it to the dough, which gets a softer consistency then, resulting in a relatively even surface.
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2005 9:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hear ya Birgit. I form them round but as they sit and brown in the pan, one side goes flat and then as I try to turn them, either that prob gets worse and they end up blobby sorta pyramids or they just have one brown side.

I think you were trying to link me to caul fat. You right, waaaay too much overkill for meatballs.
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birgit



Joined: 31 Jan 2005
Posts: 247
Location: Germany

PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2005 10:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yup! Contact grill with extra massive screw clamps! Wink
Um, but, have you already tried putting an egg into the meat mixture?
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2005 11:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, how sweet of you to stay with me on this. I use egg but I only use a minimum of breadcrumbs. So mine are pretty soft until cooked. I guess I could make 'em sturdier with more breadcrumbs but when I have them on sandwiches or pasta I feel like there are carbs enough to go around already. Know waddeye mean?
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birgit



Joined: 31 Jan 2005
Posts: 247
Location: Germany

PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2005 12:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mhm, yes, but I think I'd prefer to skip bread or pasta and enjoy the meatballs with salad or fruity red cabbage with lots of apples, and mashed potatoes (ok, taken in, carbs, here you are again, and pasta is great, too, ... but I have to admit I have a soft spot for good mashed potatoes ..., and I'll be distracted by the red cabbage as well) But that's not really a good solution -- what about grinding a part of the meat finer to get smaller pyramids? Or turning the meatballs more often -- in a hot wok, for example? Constantly patting them flat doesn't sound useful as well. Seems as if it's time for some empirical studies ... As far as I can remember, the meat combination for yugoslawian cevapcici (which is 1/2 pork, 1/2 beef, salt, pepper and garlic, nothing else) forms more pyramids than a combination with egg, soaked bread roll and some spices and herbs. Hm .... Putting them in the oven first, as PestoMan suggested, sounds promising.
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brighidsdaughter



Joined: 02 Oct 2004
Posts: 233
Location: Canton, TX USA

PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2005 2:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I roast meatballs in the oven. Shape well-chilled mixture with wet hands, then put meatballs back in the fridge for awhile or in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up again. Preheat oven to 425-450F. Place meatballs on a rack in a baking pan. Bake for about 10 min (for larger balls), then lower the heat to 325-350 & continue baking til done. Hope this helps.
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2005 2:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks! Chilling after handling sounds promising. I used to have problems with breaded things like chicken parmesan losing their breading until I learned that they need a good rest before browning.
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birgit



Joined: 31 Jan 2005
Posts: 247
Location: Germany

PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2005 9:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's morning again here now and I took the opportunity to ask my mom about her meatballs -- much more effective than after-midnight- theories ... Wink In her recipe there are, per 500 g mixed meat, even 2 bread rolls, soaked in water until soft and then squeezed to get the liquid out again, 2 eggs and a mixture of golden fried onion and some parsley, as well salt/pepper, etc. So I assume, the reason of the relative flatness of these meatballs lies in the texture of the mixture, which is softened a lot because of the binding ingredients (soaked rolls, eggs, onion/parsley and a bit of frying fat). Their flavor is comparably light and fluffy and not that meaty. So this might be a completely different type of meatballs ...
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MelC



Joined: 13 Jul 2005
Posts: 64
Location: Ontario Canada

PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2005 6:43 pm    Post subject: Re: Help with Meatballs Reply with quote

I start with a HOT pan and just a little olive oil (and not too crowded a pan)... once the first side is browned, I add a generous splash of hot water to the pan... then keep cooking until it's gone. Roll them over a bit and repeat the water treatment when nearly done (repeat 2-3 more times until they are cooked). The pan needs to be quite hot because you disperse much of the heat with the steam.

This steams the outside of the balls which I find helps them keep their shape, and helps release them from the pan before turning. When I do the last side, I add just a little bit more water (or sherry) which releases all the wonderful carmelized bits from the pan and then I just roll the balls around to make sure any sides that are not as nicely browned get their share of the goodness!

Also, I use crushed Rice Krispies instead of breadcrumbs (necessity is the mother of invention! Very Happy ) and I always add some parmesan or asiago cheese to the mix as well as an egg and some Worcestershire sauce.
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bestcopy



Joined: 01 Dec 2004
Posts: 4
Location: Ghent, Belgium

PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2005 7:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Best is to cook them in the oven and avoid pork meat.
Just posted a recipe for meatballs/patties with cherries at my food scrapbook blog. Here it is:
Flemish meat patties with sour cherries
For 4
800 g minced meat*
1 slice white bread, crumbled
1 egg yolk
500 g sour cherries** with 30 cl juice, bottled or canned
40 cl meat stock
100 g butter
a small glass of gin***
salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Moisten the bread crumbs with a tbs of cherry juice. Drain and mix with meat and egg yolk. Avoid that the mix becomes too wet. Roll into 8 balls and flatten to patties.
Butter an oven dish, large enough to fit the patties. Put in oven and bake for 5 m. Pour in the stock and the cherry juice. Cook for about 45 m. Remove patties and keep warm. Pour cooking liquids in a pan and reduce until halved. Put in the cherries and heat for 5 m. Add the patties and reheat. (Add salt & pepper, if necessary).
Serve with mashed potatoes.

* A mix of pork and veal. (Add an exotic flavour by using spicy lamb's meat from merguez.)
**Tart cherries, canned or bottled
***Obviously, this should be good Belgian jenever, but a drop of good gin will do.
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Deste



Joined: 17 Aug 2005
Posts: 307
Location: Far, far away

PostPosted: Mon Aug 29, 2005 11:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cooks Illustrated, No. 30, January & February 1998 has a great recipe for meatballs written by Jack Bishop. It may also appear in the magazine's big new cookbook of best recipes. (The magazine can be annoying with same dogged, plodding formula for writing articles that culminate in recipes, but every time I've followed their instructions, I have been wowed.) Can you get your hands on it? It's worth reading. I like to add finely crumbled bacon, though. (Regarding their best advice w/ ingreds. & technique: mash chunky bread crumbs from 2 slices of good white bread with 6 T of plain yogurt. I let mixture sit for 10 mins.)

Regarding your difficulties: sometimes it's a matter of temperature and humidity, etc. However, striking a balance between firmly shaping the meatball and packing it too densely is a challenge. Keep the balls small and don't press down on them too much. Roll them between both palms until surface is smooth and to be safe, place them on a tray in the fridge for half an hour before subjecting them to the pan. Oil has to be at least 1/2 an inch up the sides of the pan, able to withstand high temperature, and hot. Test one ball first. Don't crowd them.
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