Rarely do I actually celebrate our nation’s great food holidays. Actually, I guess I can celebrate National Cereal Day today by re-reading Jason Kessler’s NBA Power Rankings: Breakfast Cereal Edition. But I confess, Sunday night, I actually celebrated the great day of the meatball. I thought, in honor of Dr. Meatball’s game-changing discovery, I’d splice together a few hybrid dishes and see if we can’t get some Darwin-style meatball evolution happening.
Experiment #1: Cincinnati-Style Three-Way Meatball
Just hear me out. Thank you. Inspired by our patented (pending) stuffed meatball technique, this Cincinnati shoutout involves mixing lean ground beef with a little cinnamon, cocoa powder, allspice and a dash of Worcestershire. Rather than sculpting that mixture around a cube of cheddar (which will result in just…the oiliest mess you’ve ever had the pleasure of scraping off a baking sheet), sub in shredded cheddar, halve the amount and bake at 350F for 25 minutes. Put that on your spaghetti and smoke it.
Experiment #2: Jewish Deli-Style Stuffed Cabbage Meatball
As I mentioned in yesterday’s loosely magic-themed What To Eat For Lunch, I don’t have enough space to make noodles in my kitchen. So I really don’t have space to stuff cabbage — it really is more of an ordeal than you’d think: coring the cabbage, boiling, draining and drying a bunch of giant cabbage leaves, finding space in a 2/3-sized freezer for 50 stuffed cabbage rolls (which is really the only amount you should ever make them in). I really love the stuff, so here’s a solution.
Stew thick-shredded green cabbage in that classic stuffed cabbage sweet and sour tomato sauce (check out this recipe for an idea) until tender, then cool, mix into ground beef with cooked rice, form into meatballs and return to the sauce to cook.
Experiment #3: Indian Meatball Sub
Here’s a weird concept, especially since, like, 80% of Indians won’t go near meat. I have a major comfort food in kheema, India’s version of chili. It translates perfectly into a meatball. Sauté and cool onions, garlic and ginger with a little garam masala, then mix into ground beef or lamb with chopped cilantro and fry in a very hot pan until browned. On a naanwich or even a crusty baguette with a little spiked yogurt, it’s about as satisfying a meatball sandwich outside of Italy (or Cambodia) as you’ll find.
My cookbook comes out…at some point.
More meatballs for lunch on Food Republic: