Sunday, September 29, 2013

Consider the Meatball: Birthday Balls

Seems like just about everybody celebrates birthdays with a sweet cake. But not everybody loves cake, even if it contains plenty of booze. My personal preferences for birthday revelry include a Family Sized bag of Cheetos and as many donuts as I can eat in 24 hours (and that is A LOT). I know a few people who, sadly, don't celebrate themselves with any treat at all.

My officemate declined a booze cake for her birthday this year and instead asked for meatballs. Sixty Birthday Balls fit neatly into a new birthday tradition.

Birthday Balls
Makes about 60 tiny meatballs

Meatballs:
1 scant cup whole wheat bread crumbs
½ cup whole milk
1 cup riced cooked russet potato, cooled (about 1 potato, peeled)
1 grated medium red onion (about ½ cup)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons prepared whole grain mustard
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Zest from 1 orange
1 ½  pound 85% lean ground beef
½ - 3/4 pound lean ground pork 
Butter for greasing baking sheets

In very large mixing bowl combine bread crumbs and milk in medium-sized bowl, stirring with spatula until crumbs are moistened and soak up milk; stir in potato onion, eggs, mustard, spices, zest and combine thoroughly. Add beef and pork and mix well but gently. 

Keep your hands wet with water to avoid mixture sticking to them, and shape tiny meatballs (use a heaping tablespoon to measure each ball). Place meatballs on buttered baking sheets (Use sheets with lip; line with parchment if desired.). Bake in preheated 350 degree oven. Flip balls after 10 minutes; continue cooking until internal temperature reads 160 degrees; about 25 minutes total cooking time.

Sauce:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil or butter
1 small shallot, diced fine
¾ cup quality lingonberry preserves
½ cup wine (any kind you happen to be drinking)
1 cup chicken stock
¼ cup orange juice (juice from about 1 orange)
1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire
Salt and pepper to taste
Several tablespoons cold butter

Heat oil or butter in large saucepan over medium heat; add shallot and sauté until softened, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients except for cold butter and simmer gently about 10 to 15 minutes, or until sauce is reduced slightly and begins to thicken. Remove from heat and whisk in butter. 

When meatballs are ready, gently stir them into sauce to coat. Return to low heat and allow to simmer for an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.


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