I made some meatballs yesterday. I don't know why, I don't know what prompted it, but suddenly I felt like I needed to make and eat some meatballs. Steve and I popped in to the Ikea Cafe to split a small order of Swedish meatballs as a snack when we were there last month, but other than that, I can't even recall when I last THOUGHT about meatballs.
So yesterday I went through and did an inventory of what's in the cupboards (a whole lotta nothin) and then made up a shopping list and headed off to Kirk's early on Saturday to get my shopping done.
Note to self, there is NO "good time" to go to a grocery store in Cayman on a Saturday. Since the grocery stores are required by law to close on Sundays, EVERYONE goes on Saturday to get their fixin's for the next few days. That means everything is torn apart and dirty because the stores can't keep up with the traffic and a lot of stuff is sold out already and the produce is usually at least a few days old and crappy even by Cayman's standards. You'd think that Mondays would be the best day to shop, since they're closed Sunday they can re-stock... but no... they're not just closed to the public Sundays, they're CLOSED and no re-stocking gets done 'til Tuesday. But I'm getting off topic...
The recipe I was following called for 1/2 pound each of ground round, ground pork and ground lamb or veal. Yeah, right. I figured I'd adjust it to 3/4 pound each of round and pork. Parsley, Basil and garlic powder, along with some salt & pepper rounded out the herbage, and 1/2 cup of bread crumbs, half a cup of parmesan cheese and 5oz of frozen chopped spinach (thawed and wringed out) provided the filler and the glue, along with an egg. I mixed everything up in a big bowl and then portioned them all out and tried something new I saw on a cooking show: I baked them in a mini muffin tin.
The reasons given in the show for using a mini muffin tin made sense to me: the meatballs are suspended, so any grease that drips out dips into the muffin cup and doesn't get the flaky breadcrumb crust (I tried it with Panko Japanese bread crumbs for shits & giggles, and they came out looking like Summertimes) all soggy but the whole orb gets the same-ishamount of heat and they don't end up flat on one side because they were sitting on a flat pan.
I ended up making a double batch, because the meat was in packages greater than .75 lbs. I ended up with 35 1.5oz or so meatballs and did it in three batches because my mini muffin tin has only 12 cups.
The first batch came out looking like meat muffins. I left them in the oven for about 26 minutes, so A) they were overdone B) as the meat contracted, they "slid" into the cups a bit giving them the look of a fat girl in tight pants C) the part that slipped into the muffin tin was effectively sealed off, so the breadcrumbs came out moist instead of crispy.
The second batch were done properly, but I waited too long to flip them over and looked a little more like muffins again, but at least when I flipped them the bottom parts got some dry heat and crisped up.
The third batch I flipped at 12 minutes and they came out pretty near perfect. I had a couple along the way for quality assurance, and they were pretty good. I ended up whipping up a little spaghetti and had a few meatballs (I figured if they were 1.5oz each, give or take, I could have four meatballs which would be just over a quarter pound of meat) on the side.
I have a few left in the fridge to slice up and make a meatball marinara sandwich later on today, and two dozen in the freezer for future gluttony. Mmmmmm meaty.