The Best Meatballs You’ll Ever Have

DSC_2582

I’ve now been eating meat again for about a year. Don’t ask, it’s a long story.

To make it short, I’ve been cooking a lot more in 2013, trying out all kinds of yummy recipes involving meat and fish. Which was one of the main reasons why I started eating meat again, to broaden my cooking horizon.

One thing I’ve looked into early on, and I blame a visit to New York in January for this, we’re meatballs. Delicious meatballs in tomato sauce. I’ve heard so much about them, and I regret not going to the little hole-in-the-wall in manhattan called “Meatball Obsession”.

Even though I didn’t eat there, the little shop left a long lasting impression on me. I saw a few Le Creuset pots stewing delicious meatballs in the back of the shop.

I had to try making them myself immediately. First thing I bought in our new apartment (oh hey, we moved last year!) was a big Le Creuset pot for making goulash, boeuf bourguignon, fricasset and, most importantly, meatballs.

I found a recipe that served as a nice base, but it does one thing wrong: the cooking time.

I found that the secret to juicy and tasty meatballs is to stew the sauce and the meat as long as possible.

But then again, that’s the secret to getting meat right in general, isn’t it?

I’ve had years if practice making tomato sauce, so there’s a good start.

DSC_2558

The first important step is to let the tomato sauce simmer for at least two hours. I buy canned tomatoes, and you can drain them of quite a bit of juice before cooking them, bit they still got lots of fluids in them.

Then the meatballs. Once they’re in, they only get better from stewing in the sauce with every hour they’re in. Ninety minutes of letting them simmer is the required minimum.

DSC_2559

Freshly ground beef and pork (and believe me, you only want freshly ground meat) has a lot of fluid in it too. Once the meat is in for 45 minutes, that fluid will seep into the tomato sauce and needs to evaporate before serving.

DSC_2570DSC_2575

But the fluids come with good news too. After a hour or so, the already tasty tomato sauce mixes with delicious flavors seeping in from the meatballs, turning this into the greatest simple meal I’ve enjoyed in 2013.

And when I say better, I mean wonderfully juicy and filled with delicious tomato sauce aroma.

I need to confess one thing upfront, before we dive in: I eat these meatballs as a main dish, usually without any sides, no pasta. Just some baguette or good German bread. Because the meatballs are just too good in their own, too frickin good.

DSC_2576

Way too late into the year, I added cheese to the mix. You’ll have to forgive me, I was a vegetarian for 14 years and quite ignorant of cooking that involved meat.

Melted cheese is the literal icing on the meatball cake.

After some four hours of cooking, the last trip required for the meatballs involves 10 minutes in the oven, with cheese on top. The result just keeps blowing my mind.

The melted cheese is optional, and the meatballs are delicious on their own already. But those ten extra minutes will pay off big time and are sure to make you new friends.

Of course, these meatballs are awesome to eat the next day too. In fact, they get even better when they’re in the fridge for a day. I tend to cook a big pot every time, just so I have some leftovers for the next day(s).

Here are the ingredients (feeds four to six meatball enthusiasts):

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 3 28 oz cans of peeled tomatoes (yes, you need a lot of tomatoes!)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup of milk
  • 1/3 cup of breadcrumbs
  • Optional: shredded cheese, anything from Swiss to Emmentaler to Parmesan works

The tomato sauce

  1. Drain the fluids from the cans. Pour the tomatoes into a large pot, 24cm/9″ recommended. Squish them with your hands so you can nice and small chunks.
  2. Add ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of oregano and let it simmer for at least 2 hours, on low to medium heat, stirring occasionally.

The meatballs

  1. Leave the meat outside for some 30 minutes for it to get to room temperature. It’ll be easier to handle and also less cold for the mixing step.
  2. Add egg, milk, breadcrumbs, oregano, salt, pepper, parsley and Parmesan to the meat in a large bowl. Knead the “dough” for some good five minutes.
  3. With your hands, roll meatballs with a diameter of about 5cm/2″. The size doesn’t really matter, they’ll be amazing anyway, but 5cm are a good size to aim for. You should get 20 to 25 meatballs from this recipe. Put them on no wet wooden board so they don’t stick.
  4. Drop the meatballs into the sauce, once by one. Make sure to cover most of them with sauce, but don’t force them into the sauce, at this point, they’re still pretty fragile little beings. If parts of them poke out of the sauce, no problem. After 20 minutes, you can give it a gentle stir to cover them fully.
  5. Leave to simmer for at least 90 minutes. If there’s still fluid on top of the sauce, leave them simmering for another 30 minutes. Really, you can’t go wrong letting these in the sauce for longer.

Melting cheese sensation (optional)

For this extra treat, a good Swiss cheese will do. Emmentaler works well, but anything tasty works.

  1. Put about six meatballs, covered with lots of tomato sauce, into little baking dishes.
  2. Cover with cheese (seriously, lots of cheese)
  3. Put in the oven, middle rack, and leave them in for at least 10 minutes at 220 degrees C or until the cheese is bubbling.

Whereas these are usually served on a sandwich or with pasta, I prefer to serve them as the main course. Some fresh bread will go nicely with them, but really well cooked meatballs speak for themselves.

Enjoy the best meatballs you’ll ever have!

Advertisements

Our Sunday

It’s a been a lovely couple of days recently. This Sunday we rode our bikes out to Tempelhof airport, which is simply one of the best things that could’ve happened to Berlin, ever.

Out at Tempelhof

Out at Tempelhof

So vast, wide, smooth runways where you can bike, longboard, inline-skate and so much else. So much open space, so many incredibly huge lawns to hang out on. Plus, the guerrilla gardens. They’re just great.

Out at Tempelhof

Out at Tempelhof

Out at Tempelhof

If you’re in Berlin, Tempelhof is a must-visit, if only just to stroll around once and then go someplace else, e.g. Chapter One for coffee. But it’s a must-visit. No excuses.

Out at Tempelhof

In totally unrelated news, my beloved SX-70 magically started working again after having spent a night outside in a thunderstorm. Rejoice! Very happy about it, because there’s still a pile of my beloved Polaroid 600 left in the fridge. Don’t really want to let that go to waste.

So, how have you been?

Food Bloggers in the Wild

#alttext#

#alttext#

#alttext#

#alttext#

#alttext#

#alttext#

The wild being Berlin. Molly visited Berlin, and obviously we had to give her the grand tour of the eastern part of Berlin. There was currywurst, there was good coffee, and there was schnitzel. The Wednesday Chef was in there too every now and then. And boy, they’re both pretty awesome. Molly even approved of my mushroom risotto!

Yes!

#alttext#

In other news, I’m spending this and next week taking care of Mari until J comes back home from work, because the kindergarten is closed for summer holiday. And I’m loving it. It’s nice to spend some quality time with my daughter, it really is. I get the feeling she enjoys that too.

But man, it’s still frickin hot. We had around 37 degrees Celsius over the weekend, and around 35 degrees today. Our apartment just never really cools down, staying close to 30 degrees even during the night. That is some heat wave bitch, I’m telling ya.

The Playground Diaries Part IV

0

Today the playgrounds were empty, and I don’t blame anyone for that. Apparently we skipped autumn and went directly to winter. I just bought a winter jacket last weekend, and today was the first day I had to wear it. I’ll tell you how I feel about that: It sucks! I’m not a big fan of autumn, but at least there’s some sun, fallen leaves and all that stuff, but that doesn’t seem to be happening this year.

So I’m guessing parents were doing what I did, head right back home, or were sitting in the cafés for parents and kids, though I didn’t see a lot of people in there when I passed by one of them. The sun was shining a bit, but it wasn’t a good day to hang out at the playground, even more so with no people around to watch. So apart from doing some chores I spent most of my time with Mari inside, which I have to get used to anyway.

It’s cool, because you get more time to squish her, to play with her and to just watch her, compared to pushing her around in a pram, or her sitting on your lap watching life on the playground, while not showing much interest in you.

I also spent some quality time at the cupcake shop, getting totally high on sugar from a chocolate cupcake and a hot chocolate. What I realized there is that you just have to point a laughing baby in the general direction of some girls sitting on another table, and it’ll do magic. Not that I did it, or that I’d have any interest in it, Mari did all of the work herself, but it confirmed a suspicion I had. Before I keep blabbing on about this, and you start to think less of me, let’s get to something serious.

J and one of her mum friends played with the idea of opening their own alternative kindergarten. You basically set up something like a business, get some space (usually in what used to be a shop). It’s not an easy feat to pull off, put I fully support it. Waiting for a kindergarten space for your kid is more of a gamble around here, so we’d have no problem filling the spaces to make it a sustainable “business.” There’ll be bigger updates about this, I’m sure, but it’s starting to take some shape, and to get a bit more serious.

As always, I had good fun with little Mari today. She’s so squishable and entertaining, and it’s so awesome to watch her grow and learn. I can’t say that enough. Watching her laugh makes us laugh, you can’t do anything about that, it’s so infectious. Mari just makes me very, very happy.

There’s Something About Older Cars

I’m gonna start off by revealing something that’s not really a secret, but it needs to be said: I don’t have a driver’s license. I live in Berlin where it’s just not necessary to have a car.

I do however like to look at the occasional older car. Not in a naughty way, but just to appreciate the look, the hopefully cared-for paintwork (seriously, an older car with ruined paintwork just isn’t worth looking at) , the old interior, the mostly classic designs. It’s just pretty and so nice to look at.

And being a photo nerd, what else can you do but to take a picture of it?

Today I sat in the cafe Oliv and I already noticed an awesome Chevy truck standing outside. But then what looks like a BMW 2000 CS pulled up and perfected the scene. I saw the reflection of the two standing on opposite sides of the street, and after admiring it a couple of times I grabbed the SX-70 and went out to do what needed to be done.

There's Something About Older Cars