Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Roasted Meatballs and Polenta

I love going through piles of old photos. Seeing pics of the family over the years is hilarious. The fashions, the hairstyles, the eye glasses. So many laughs. Of all the pictures in the box, baby pictures have to be the best. I don't mean just the pretty posed Olan Mills photo package snaps, I mean the photos of my kids in their daily lives. Playing in the yard. Running on the beach. Sitting on someones lap. Opening presents on their birthday or Christmas. Digging in the sand and dirt. Fighting. Laughing. Crying.


Who doesn't love a pic of a little kiddo who hasn't quite mastered the art of self-feeding struggling with a spoon filled with something bright and colorful, guaranteed to stain everything it comes in contact with? Everyone has them. We take a ton of pics of our kids on their first birthday as they are digging into that first birthday cake, stuffing cake in their mouth, packing frosting up their nose and creating amazing new hairstyles with the sticky combination or cake, ice cream and frosting. So. Much. Fun. I have loads of those fun pics. One of my very favorites is a pic of my son Nick sitting on a neighbors lap manhandling a chicken wing drummette that's been grilled and is coated in sticky barbeque sauce. He was such a teeny tiny guy, the chicken drummy looks like a big chicken leg in his tiny hand.

Pupcake, aka Patryk, before and after spaghetti
Dig through your own photos. I'm willing to bet you have a pic or two or twelve of your own kids indulging in one of the favorite foods of young kids all over the country- spaghetti. You're experiencing mental time travel as we speak aren't you? Remember the first time you placed a bowl of carefully cut up spaghetti noodles and red sauce, cooled down to lukewarm, with or without a spoon, on your child's highchair tray for them to eat? Never mind the mess or the stains or the scrubbing you had to do afterwards to return the kitchen, the highchair and your child to their pre-dinner state, I'd be willing to bet my paycheck you grabbed a camera at least once and snapped a pic or two. I know I did!

My kiddos really loved spaghetti. They loved meat sauce and meat balls and even sauce with no meat at all. They loved to twirl the long noodles with a spoon and fork, and of course they would slurp up the long wiggly sauce-coated noodles with as much sloppy noise as possible and giggle insanely after. They loved spaghetti with the traditional marinara sauce and they also loved spaghetti when I made with a brown gravy instead. That was a big favorite around our house back then, and it still is with me today, even though the kiddos are long grown and on their own.

Meatloaf is one of my favorite comfort foods. I have such wonderful memories of my mom's meatloaf and the gooey sticky ketchup baked on top. It would get a little burned and caramelized on the edges, just so so insanely good. I often crave that comfort after a crummy day in the office but who has time to waste on something that needs to bake for an hour or more? Not most busy families. The answer is easy- meatballs! Meatballs go from raw burger to plate in a snap, just mix it up, roll into balls, bake and bam-done. No waiting for an hour or two for the meat to cook through, it's done in 30 minutes. All you have to worry about is getting your sauce together and how you want to serve them. We have shared meatball recipes here before. It's not that complicated really, any meatloaf recipe works just as well in meatball size. Sauce or not, make meatball subs, cut up and use for pizza topping or drizzle with barbeque sauce and serve as a football snack, meatballs are easy and awesome.

Tonight we are roasting the meatballs in the oven, like I always do. No more turning meatballs in a skillet for me- that's too messy and labor intensive. Roll and roast. Easy peasy. After roasting they will get a short simmer in a quick brown gravy made with beef broth and thickened. You can add mushrooms if you like, I didn't have any on hand so we went without. I made a pot of pasta for the Chef and a pot of polenta for myself. I love the combination of hearty polenta and sharp cheddar cheese and a rich brown gravy. I had plenty of leftovers too which was great for workday lunches.

Roasted Meatballs with Polenta

2 lbs ground beef
2 eggs
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, minced
1 teaspoon Sinful Food Signature Seasoning, plus more
small handful parsley, chopped, plus more for serving
2 cups rich beef broth
cornstarch slurry for thickening
2 cups cold water
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 tbs butter
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Set oven to 350 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Crumble the ground beef into a large bowl. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over and the seasoning. 

Add the minced garlic, onion, chopped parsley and the egg. Mix everything together using your hands to make it easier. Roll into ping pong ball sized meatballs and place on parchment lined pan. Sprinkle with additional Signature Seasoning.

Bake at 350 degrees until completely cooked. This takes about 30 minutes. 

In a Dutch oven or braiser, heat the broth. Add enough cornstarch slurry to thicken to a thin gravy. Add the meatballs and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.

While meatballs are simmering, place the cold water in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the corn meal and a half teaspoon of Signature Seasoning. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and cornmeal is cooked, usually about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the butter and the cheese.

Serve the meatballs and gravy over the polenta. Sprinkle with additional chopped fresh parsley.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free as part of a random drawing. There was no requirement of using the products and then providing written promotion. This post is entirely of my own writing. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe are of good quality and safe. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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