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Meatballs

011614-StirItUp

Looking at the weather reports has always been part of the daily routine for anyone that lives in a resort area. The weather can and does affect our daily lives much more than it will impact those people living in the city with a regular 9 to 5 job.

In the summer, resorts count on nice, sunny weather to attract visitors. During the winter, we also rely on good weather to get the absolute most visitors to the area, but we, obviously, also need those wicked stormy days to provide the snow those people are searching for.

All this uncertainty in the weather also plays a role in what we eat. Like I said, this past holiday season was nowhere near as busy as it could have been for many folks, so there might be that one big check and you could be tempted to splurge and have a big steak for dinner, or you might be looking ahead a little and decide to be slightly more frugal for now.

Meatballs are a great way to do both; splurge a little while preparing for leaner times ahead. Meatballs are a great addition to the plate of spaghetti to make it a heartier meal and not just a simple plate of noodles. You can choose different meats, adding veal, lamb or pork for better meatballs, or stay with all beef and keep the price down.

There are few things to keep in mind for good meatballs. First, use meat cuts with a little fat content like chuck that is usually 20 to 25 percent fat instead of leaner sirloin, and pork shoulder instead of loin, to avoid dry meatballs. Also, don’t overwork them or that can lead to them being dense and dry. I’m using only beef and pork, but again, feel free to add veal or lamb as your tastes and budget allow. Think snow.

Meatballs
1 lb. ground beef (80-20%)
½ lb. ground pork shoulder
1 small yellow onion, small diced (not fine chopped)
1 shallot, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
2 T butter
3 slices white bread, crust removed & cut into small cubes
¾ C milk
1 large egg, beaten
1½ T salt
1½ T pepper
2 T fresh parsley, chopped
2 T dry basil
1 T dry oregano
¼ C Parmesan cheese, grated
¼ C olive oil

Soak the bread in the milk. In a skillet, sauté the onion and shallot on medium-high until start to soften and turn translucent. Add the garlic and sauté just for another minute or two to slightly soften and let cool.

In a large bowl (I use an oversized bowl for larger surface area), lightly mix the meats together. Sprinkle seasonings and cheese over the meat. Pour the egg and onions over the meat. Gently squeeze excess milk out of the bread and sprinkle over the mix. Gently mix everything together and then Gently roll into about 2- to 3-inch balls onto a sheet pan.

Get the oil hot in a skillet and brown the meatballs on all sides and place on a sheet pan. Finish cooking in the oven at 350 degrees until done. If you are using them all fresh, you can finish cooking them in a skillet with half the sauce you plan on using.

Smitty is a personal chef specializing in dinner parties, cooking classes and special events. Trained under Master Chef Anton Flory at Top Notch Resort in Stowe, Vt., Smitty is known for his creative use of fresh ingredients. He has been a chef for PGA’s Memorial Tournament for more than 15 years and ran the main kitchen at the World Games. For more information and archived copies of Stir it Up, visit chefsmitty.com. Smitty welcomes questions and comments at smitty@chefsmitty.com or (530)412-3598.

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