It may seem trivial, given the state of world affairs, but for a few years now I have been fretting about meatballs.
Anyone who has tried to cook a grain free meatball has probably, like I have, cooked a limp, liquid filled blob, unappealing and soggy. A myriad of attempts at grain free meatballs always resulted in them breaking apart in the pan during the initial searing, then oozing and generally looking terrible once in the oven to finish. I have tried several remedies: cooked rice (ugh the texture), gluten-free bread crumbs (wet and nope), almond flour (dense and ineffective), coconut flour (again dense, and imparts too much coconut-y flavor) and eggs (too much liquidity, despite their binding nature). All without success.
There is a solution and it’s so simple and cheap it’s kinda stupid.
Can you believe this? If you add 2 Tsp to 1 pound of ground chicken or turkey (454 grams), or 2.5 Tsp to 1 pound of fattier meat (beef, veal, pork- 454 grams) it will bind those fuckers up like no one’s business, imparting no flavor whatsoever.
Let’s cook some meatballs!!!!!
Basic Meatball Recipe:
1 pound (454 grams) ground meat
Baking soda (2 tsp for lean meats like chicken or turkey or fish, 2.5 tsp for fattier meats like beef, pork, duck or sausage).
2-3 Tbsp Aromatics: Minced Garlic, Shallots, or 4 Minced Scallions
2 Tbsp acid (vinegar or citrus like lime or lemon- very important as you must activate the baking soda)
3 Tbsp Fresh Herbs (your choice)
1-2 Tbsp Dried Herbs (again go crazy)
2 Tbsp Umami like flavor: Tomato paste, mustard, chipotle, parmesan cheese (or 1 Tbsp fish sauce, soy or tamari sauce)
1 Tbsp Oil (olive, sesame, coconut–your choice)
Salt & Pepper
Throw everything atop the meat. Mix well with your hands. If you are squeamish (I am) use disposable latex gloves or a spoon.
This next bit is important. Because it is not advisable to eat raw meat to check the seasoning, you will throw a small piece onto a hot skillet and cook it. Adjust and re-cook a small piece if necessary. It is very hard to season a meatball once it has been cooked. Once it is to your taste, form into balls, and chill in the fridge, uncovered for a half an hour, or covered in plastic wrap for 24 hours. You will then sear your meatballs in a pan with a little olive oil, and place on a lined baking sheet which you will place in an oven pre-heated to 375 F (Gas Mark 5 or 190 C.) until they are cooked through (10-15 minutes).
Now, utilizing the master recipe above, let’s appropriate some flavors from various ethnic cuisines and go meatball kookoo!
You want a goddamned Mexican Meatball to go with a margarita? OK. Garlic powder, oregano, chile powder & cumin. Chipotle, cilantro, lime & olive oil.
Sriracha, sesame oil, fish sauce , minced garlic, minced ginger, chopped cilantro, lime juice, scallions.
Olive oil, lemon,tomato sauce, 20 pitted & chopped olives, grated garlic, shallot, and chopped basil. If you eat cheese here is a parmesan opportunity.
Shallot, tomato paste 1 cup chopped &cooked mushrooms, dijon mustard, lemon juice, parsley and thyme.
So there you are, a shebnation solution to one of the world’s biggest problems.