meatballs

Well, that’s just souper!

First of all, Happy New Year! I hope everyone’s 2016 is starting off well. I know we all have resolutions or intentions or maybe just things we’re NOT going to do this year, and I wish you the best possible outcome for all of that. I’ve got some goals for this year, for sure. One of the biggest, most important ones is to REALLY focus on this blog, and my social media presence, and connecting with all my readers, other bloggers, and other food industry folks. The boyfriend and I are in the process of clearing out some space for me to create a little home office, so I can do this whole thing in some sort of organized, professional manner. Even though I have lots of past content here, I’m looking at it as a brand new project, and that means approaching it in a brand new way.

*Forrest Gump voice* And that’s all I’ve got to say about that. For now.

Let’s get down to business, and my love of soup. I adore soup. It seems like the perfect vehicle for experimentation with (usually) a minimum of fuss. Of course, this time of year in our part of the world it’s pretty cold, so soup also has the added benefit of being warm, hearty, and satisfying without being too heavy. This Latin American inspired Turkey Meatball Soup is no exception. It’s colorful, flavorful, and filling without landing with a thud in your guts. It also comes together pretty quickly, making it great for a weeknight, and, depending on how many you’re feeding, has the potential for leftovers later in the week.

FYI: You can totally leave out the meatballs and replace the chicken stock with veggie stock and this would be vegan and vegetarian.

Equipment

Your favorite large soup pot
A spoon suitable for turning the meatballs and stirring the soup
Knife and cutting board
Measuring spoons
Measuring cups
Paper towel lined plate for holding the browned meatballs while you assemble the rest of the soup

Ingredients
For the meatballs:
1 lb ground lean turkey
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp chile powder
1/2 tsp dried Mexican oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil

For the soup:
1 small yellow onion, medium dice
1 Pasilla pepper, seeded, medium dice
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained but NOT rinsed
2 cans diced tomatoes
15 ounce can tomato sauce
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon each ground cumin, garlic powder, chile powder, and Mexican oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix the spices, salt, and pepper into the ground turkey and form it into walnut sized balls. Heat your soup pot over medium high heat, add the canola oil, and brown but do NOT cook through the meatballs. They’ll finish cooking through in the soup. You’ll probably want to do them in two batches to avoid crowding the pot.

Hold the meatballs on the paper towel lined plate while you put together the rest of the soup.

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Add the diced onion and pepper to whatever fat is left behind in the pot. Saute until the peppers are softened slightly and the onions are translucent. Lower the heat to medium, then add the tomato sauce and stir to combine. Let all that hang out for 2-3 minutes while you open and drain all your cans. Add the diced tomatoes, corn, black beans, and the spices. You can also add black pepper if you want, but don’t add salt until the very end because the soup will reduce a bit and you don’t want it to get too salty.

Give all that another big stir, and let it simmer together for about 5 minutes. Then, add the stock and the browned meatballs, knock the heat down to low, cover and let it simmer away for about 30 minutes.

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Remove the lid, and let it continue to simmer for another 10-15 minutes, then give it a little taste to see how much salt, if any, you want to add. There’s so much flavor in there already, I only added maybe an 1/8th of a teaspoon.

You can garnish this with pretty much anything you think works. We used diced avocado and a lime wedge, because a little squeeze of lime juice at the end brings another layer of flavor to the party. You could also use tortilla chips or strips, shredded cheese, sour cream or Mexican crema, sliced olives, or some rough chopped cilantro. Of course, a bottle of hot sauce might come in handy, too, if some of you want to kick up the heat in there.

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I hope you’ll give this one a try. If you do, let me know how it works out for ya. Enjoy!

Yay Sportsballs!

So, just in case you weren’t aware, I live in Denver, home of the Denver Broncos. I’m not a crazed fanatic about the team, or really, any team, but I mention this fact because some of you might be interested in one of the NFL teams which, along with the Broncos, will be participating in play-off games this weekend. Or, maybe you’re like me, and you really just pay attention to professional sports because watching them at home (yours or someone else’s) involves making or eating snacks.

I actually work at Sports Authority Field, where the Broncos will be playing the Colts on Sunday. I work for the catering company that cooks and serves the food to the folks in the suites for all home games, so I don’t really get to see much of what’s going on on the field. I’m typically very busy in a pantry somewhere helping to push out the food we’ve been cooking all week. However, if I were going to host or attend a watch party, these Chipotle Meatballs would be on the menu.

The original recipe comes from this book:

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It’s a great little book full of interesting recipes using authentic Mexican ingredients and cooking methods. My favorite chapter is the soup chapter, but the photos next to every recipe have been good enticement to want to make them. Details at the end of this post on how you can make this cookbook part of your collection. But first, we cook!

I’ve simplified the recipe I’m giving you here because I had limited time to cook, like many of you, and used a few shortcuts. The recipe in the book walks you through a few extra steps using more authentic ingredients for an entree version, but it’s still very approachable, as are all the recipes in the book. I took my batch of meatballs to a Rose Bowl party and they were a HUGE hit. I am pretty sure these would work just great in a slow cooker, too, if you wanted to make sure they stayed warm through the whole game. That is, if they last that long. Mine didn’t.

Equipment:

large pot
skillet
mixing bowl
knife and cutting board
spoon for stirring
tongs or a spatula for turning the meatballs (or just use the same spoon, like I did, because  have I mentioned how much I hate washing dishes?)

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 can of chipotles in adobo sauce
2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
1 small onion, finely chopped, then divide in half
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed, but kept whole
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of thyme (or a small pinch of dried thyme, if that’s what you have)
1 lb lean ground pork
1 lb lean ground beef
1 garlic clove, minced
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste

For the sauce:
Heat the oil in the pot on medium-low heat. Add 1/2 of the chopped onion and cook until just softened. Add the smashed garlic clove and cook until it just starts to become fragrant. Add both cans of crushed tomatoes and stir well. Add 2-3 whole chipotles (depending on how spicy you want your sauce to be) and about a tablespoon of the adobo sauce to the tomatoes, along with the thyme and bay leaf. Allow the sauce to simmer on low while you cook the meatballs.

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For the meatballs:

First of all, let me just say that I am not sure what kind of sorcery people use to keep their meatballs pretty and round when they cook them in a pan. If you know the magic, I applaud you. I have not mastered it, so please forgive the less than attractive shot of meatballs cooking. They taste delicious, and that’s how I forgive myself for not knowing how to make them pretty.

Anyhoo…

Combine the other half of the chopped onion, the minced garlic, the pork, and the ground beef in a mixing bowl. Add the egg, plus a generous pinch each of salt and pepper, and mix well. I’m not a huge fan of touching raw meat, but I think this is one of those times when you just want to get in there and mix with your hands. Use rubber gloves, if you want, but your hands are definitely the best tools you have for this particular step.

Form the mixture into umm… the book recipe says “chestnut sized” balls. Mine were somewhere between a large marble and a ping pong ball. I couldn’t remember exactly how big a chestnut is, so I just made meatball sized looking meatballs.

Brown the meatballs in a pan until they’re just cooked through. You’ll need to cook them in batches so as not to crowd the pan.

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As each batch is done, just add them to the sauce you have simmering over there.

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When all the meatballs are browned and in the sauce, bring it to a boil for about a minute, and then let the whole thing simmer on low for at least 20 minutes (but as long as 35 or 40), stirring occasionally.

And that’s that! You could serve this as the book suggests, as an entree over rice, or just bring them to the party as they are… maybe with some little rolls or slider buns or mini-tortillas. Both the sauce and the meatballs are so full of flavor, they don’t really need much garnish.

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And now, for the giveaway details. All you need to do to enter is answer this question:

What is your biggest recipe/cookbook pet peeve?

Mine is when the ingredients list includes a lot of specialty items that are expensive or difficult to source.

Leave your answer in the comments section to be entered. I’ll draw the winner next Wednesday, January 14th.

This giveaway is not sponsored by or affiliated with the authors or the publisher, Barnes & Noble New York. Winner will be notified on the I’m Gonna Cook That Facebook page, on the I’m Gonna Cook That Twitter account, and of course, here on the blog. The winner will have 3 days to respond or the prize is forfeit. Please allow 6-8 weeks for delivery.

 

That’s a Spicy Meatball!

Za’Atar Spiced Meatballs

Today I learned that it’s nearly impossible to get an appetizing photo of meatballs with a camera phone. I’m sorry. Please don’t report me to the food blogger police. I’ll try not to let it happen again.

Don’t let the less than delicious looking picture deter you, though, you MUST try this meatball recipe. It’s really yummy. Order the Za’Atar Spice blend from Savory Spice Shop, or find another blend with a similar set of spices.  I paired these meatballs with couscous and sauteed green beans, and made a quick little pureed tomato and garlic sauce in the Magic Bullet to go with.  It all came together super fast. I cut the recipe in half, with just half a pound of the ground lamb, and I have three meatball pyramid things left over for lunch tomorrow.

Just walking into Savory inspires me to try new things. Every time I go, I pick up a new to me spice blend to try out. Just opening all the jars of herbs and spices and blends and smelling and tasting all those interesting flavours just makes me want to live in my kitchen. That’s what I love about the world of food— I can never run out of things to learn. I can see using this spice blend for all sorts of things.

Where do you go for inspiration?