Thursday, January 14, 2010

red pepper meatballs

my daughter's culinary likes and dislikes change by the week. she now has a thing for bell peppers, especially the red ones. so lately i've put them in everything, and it made it somewhat easier to convince her to eat. it's still a struggle. she does not tolerate meat near her plate, with the glorious exception of hot dogs and ground meat. (i want to roll my eyes every time i remember this, of all the meat that's available, of all the cuts, she wants ground meat, gah.) not a big fan myself, except for meatballs and stuffed cabagge, i could care less if i ever see another burger or lasagna or whatever else they make with ground meat. i wouldn't know.
these, however, are liable to become the default meatballs. i put peppers both in the meat and in the sauce, and they impart a sweet flavor.

whatever meat you choose, do not get extra lean. fat is moisture. you want some fat in there. do not use dry breadcrumbs, they suck out too much moisture. pulse a slice of bread in the food processor to make fresh breadcrumbs.

1 1/2 lbs ground meat
1 red bell pepper
1 onion
1/2 cup parmesan
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
3 tb chopped parsley
1 egg
1 24 oz can crushed tomatoes
salt, pepper

place the meat in a bowl and let it rest for 15 minutes. finely chop the onion and the pepper. sweat the onion over low heat for a couple minutes and then add half the pepper. continue cooking, without browning, until soft, about 10 minutes total. let cool and add to the meat with the parmesan, breadcrumbs and parsley.

 preheat oven at 350F. form meatballs. heat oil and sear on all sides, in batches if you have to. remove to plate. drain all but 1 tablespoon of the fat and saute the other half pepper. deglaze with a glug of wine or stock, cook for a minute and scrape to release all the bits at the bottom and then add the tomatoes. put the meatballs back in pot and bring to a boil. cover and put it in the oven for one and a half hours. serve over pasta, mashed potatoes or polenta. the one i made is very basic, to let the meatballs shine: 4 tb instant polenta for every cup of chicken broth, poured slowly while whisking, to prevent clumping, cooked for 5 minutes, with a handful of parmesan added at the end. that sauce is amazing over it. and it's only better the next day in a meatball sub.

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