Awesome kosher meatball recipe, lovely sauces, last 2009 HaSod Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2010 Tierra Salvaje Pinot Noir Reserve
This past weekend, I was on a mission from God (in my mind anyway) to make the best possible meatball possible. My wife thinks I have gone crazy, because to her the meatballs we have made in the past were fine to her, and they are. Still, my quest to make the perfect meatball cannot be quenched, though this past iteration was quite possibly my best. There are some more tweaks we will need to do, but more on that soon. Now I wanted to make a single meatball recipe, but two different sauces. Why? Simple, my wife was not interested in a meat based sauce, and I did. Now the only con to frying meatballs is that the sauce you make has no meat flavor in it. Yes, the onions and base can start from the fat that is rendered from the fried meatballs, but that still does not cut it. A true meat sauce requires meat flavors to be fully integrated in the sauce, via cooking and reducing with the meat, thereby concentrating the meat and tomato flavors, in combination. Further, I was NOT going to braise the meatballs after I went to the trouble of frying them and getting them nice and crunchy to only lose that in a pot of sauce!
So, I was left with the trouble of cooking two sauces, one with the rendered fat and one without. To get the rich meat flavor, I further rendered the fat of Nechama’s Smoked Andouille sausages (made from turkey and chicken), and then cooked them in the completed tomato sauce, to enrich the sauce with a lovely bit of heat and meat flavor. While this was successful, the extra sausages did not render well enough for me, and the extra steps were not worth the final outcome.
For the meatball recipe, I used a further modified version of the classic meatball recipe from America’s Test Kitchen:
- 1 cup of cooked but slightly watery oatmeal (cooled down) – this is the panade
- 2 pounds of 85% lean ground beef
- 6 oz. Aarons Best Sliced Beef Fry Cured & Smoked – well diced
- Two cups of squeezed shredded onions and zucchini – WELL SQUEEZED out
- 4 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- 2 eggs
- 3 garlic clove, minced
- 3 tablespoons of paprika and cumin (combined)
- Salt and pepper
- Vegetable oil
This recipe turned out awesome. I must warn you that to get two cups of well squeezed shredded onions and zucchini, you must start with many vegetables, as 50% of the vegetables are water. Do not worry they still have tons of water in the walls of the shredded vegetables, and it leeched out as they are cooked, keeping the meatballs nice and moist. The more you play with the vegetables, the better you will learn how many whole vegetables you need to start with. Once you have shredded and squeezed the vegetables, mix the components in a large bowl, and start to roll the balls out. Two pounds of meat should make 24 meatballs, which when fried will turn into a more than fine sized meatball. Next heat up the oil in a non-stick pan until almost smoking, then slowly add in the meatballs, with a long spoon or tong, and leave them alone! One thing I learned in the process of cooking is once food is placed in hot oil, LEAVE IT alone until it is browned. Moving the meatball around only slows the process. Place the meatballs into the pan in a single layer, making sure not to crowd the pan, otherwise you will be steaming them, or worse, just making meatloaf! It takes about 7 to 8 minutes per side and then a minute or two more on its side. Once you are ready to remove the meatballs, transfer them to a paper-towel-lined plate and do the next round of meatballs, until all are fried, then discard the HALF oil left in the skillet, otherwise, the sauce will be too oily.
Tomato Sauce Recipe
- Two pounds of diced onions
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes or whole tomatoes pureed
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh basil
- 2 cups of dry red wine
Cook the oil and garlic in the pan that you just fried the meatballs, over medium heat until fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes. Then throw in the diced onions and stir them around until well browned, around 12 minutes. Next stir in the crushed or pureed tomatoes, basil, salt, and dry wine and bring the pan to a simmer and cook until the pan is reduced my a third and thickened, 15 to 20 minutes.
Once the meatballs and sauce are complete, I placed the meatballs in a wide Pyrex dis, and let them stand. On Friday, before the Sabbath, I took them out of the fridge and placed them directly into a warm oven (180 degrees Fahrenheit) and ate them some two hours later. They were prefect, not dry, moist inside, crunchy on the outside, and spiked with a lovely touch smoked meat flavor (from the smoked beef fry).
To pair with these fried meatballs, we were lucky to have some crazy good experimental wines from the Four Gates Winery, and some of the left over wine that was used in the cooking of the meatballs. I must say that the two wines used to cook the meatball sauce, were OK, and not spectacular, so thank goodness that Benyamin had stopped by the night earlier to do some blind tastings on some not yet released wines.
The two wines used for cooking was my last bottle of the 2009 HaSod Cabernet Sauvignon, which is tasting nice now, but is at or just over its peak. I also opened a bottle of the 2010 Tierra Salvaje Pinot Noir Reserve. The HaSod tasted better to me, but the Tierra Salvaje Pinot was OK. The added oak to the normally steel aging of the Tierra Salvaje wines was a nice addition, but the wine tasted off balance on account of the loud lemon zest, it felt like an annoying third wheel to me.
The wine notes follow below:
2010 Tierra Salvaje Pinot Noir Reserve (Lontue Valley, Chile) – Score: B
The nose on this ruby colored wine starts with an uncommon lemon rind, dark cherry, rich chocolate, oak, ripe raspberry, rich loamy dirt, pebbles, vanilla, and spice. The mouth on this light bodied wine starts off very unbalanced with lemon rind, but after time the wine shows more dark cherry, raspberry, and spice. The mid palate is slightly unbalanced with bracing acid, lemon rind, salt, oak, light tannin, and unwanted astringency. The finish is long and salty, with spice, chocolate, dark cherry, oak, vanilla, slight tannin, and nice acid.
2009 Hasod Cabernet Sauvignon – Score: B to B+
The nose on this vibrant dark garnet to black colored wine is hopping with loamy dirt, crushed herbs, cranberry, blackcurrant, and plum. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is rich, dense, and spicy with nice mouth feel, black currant, cranberry, plum, dirt, with still nice tannin, but starting to show age with ripe dates. The tannins clam down a bit and add to the mouth feel. The mid palate is balanced with acid, integrated tannin, oak, and more dirt. The finish is long and spicy with more dirt and earth, crushed herbs, acid, cranberry, blackcurrant, oak, black cherry, and dark chocolate, which gives way to a rich round mouth. DRINK UP!!!