The secrets for the perfect meatball!
The ingredients for a perfect meatball are: a base (meat, cheese, fish ...) + an ingredient to bind (yolk, breadcrumbs, flour ...) + flavorings (garlic, onion, herbs, spices ...), taking I realize that in some cases the binding ingredient is not necessary (as for meatballs prepared with glutinous rice).
Here are some tricks to make a meatball with bows:
- it is best to prepare the mixture the day before, especially if it contains herbs or spices: the flavors will have plenty of time to mix and your meatballs will have more taste.
An advice: put your preparation in the fridge in an airtight container, to ensure that its flavor remains intact.
- Use 2 forks on top of each other to mix all the ingredients evenly (do not use the food processor! The mince will be too fine)
- flour your hands to prepare the meatballs: it is much more effective and hasty than preparing the meatballs in a floured dish.
- to brown the meatballs, move the pan continuously: in this way, they will be well browned on all sides.
When we talk about "meatballs", it is often assumed that we are talking about "meatballs".
Meatballs are very tasty, but they are often dry because it is very easy to overcook them. The secret to soft meatballs is to mix different types of meat (ask your butcher kindly):
- meatballs 50% beef, 50% veal remain very tender and cook quickly (less than 30 minutes). Here is the secret of our national meatballs, often cooked in tomato sauce to make them even softer
- By preparing meatballs instead of 50% beef, 50% lamb, and adding mint and onion, you will land directly in the Middle East. To be served with a yogurt sauce!
- the meatballs 50% beef, 50% pork are typical of northern Europe. Usually, they are left to simmer for a long time in wine sauces, or served in sandwiches.
- Rarer is the combination of 3 types of meat: beef-lamb-pork, as in the cevapcici of the Balkans, or beef-veal-pork in Spain, for the Albondiguillas.
- Chicken or turkey meatballs are traditionally less popular. Mainly, we find them in Asia and, unlike meatballs, chicken or turkey are cut with a knife.
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Many recipes require the use of breadcrumbs soaked in milk. To renew the basic recipe, have fun replacing bread with flour while also changing the taste: corn, spelled, buckwheat, chickpea flour, etc.
Do you have a vegetarian dinner guest? Why not throw yourself on a super green variant of meatballs? Here is the recipe for tasty and colorful carrot balls.
Farinaceous meatballs (rice, potatoes, flour ...)
Meatballs made with starch are naturally sticky because they are rich in starch. So in Japan, rice balls (sometimes round, but also triangular), called onigiri, are simply based on white rice worked with wet hands. They replace bread and have a safe place in all bento boxes.
In the countries of the East, the potato meatball, hand-made and made with mashed potatoes, dominates.
As for legumes, the meatball allows even the most suspicious people to eat them. Chickpeas and broad beans stand out in falafel from the Middle East. Each country has its own variant and the proportions of the ingredients change. Excellent meatballs are also made with red lentils. The secret? The spices!
Finally, a little out of fashion, but prepared for centuries to use the leftovers of slightly hard bread, the bread balls are a real treat especially when served in a little broth. As for the unleavened bread balls, they are a must during the Pessah (Jewish Passover).
The other meatballs (cheese, fish, desserts)
Savory cheese, such as goat or sheep, lends itself even better. For an aperitif, mix a little fresh goat cheese with a little pepper and mix it with chopped chives, a little hot pepper, sesame or poppy seeds… Usually, these meatballs are incredibly successful. In Lebanon, the cheese is made with dried aromatic herbs that we pass in the zatar, which is very spicy, but it is also very good!
Fish balls are an excellent solution for using the leftovers of a fish dinner. We find them especially in Asian countries, flavored with garlic and ginger. They can be made by adding vegetables, but they need a lot of flour or grains to stay round.
However, this journey into the realm of the meatball wouldn't be complete without a sweet and sugary note. Why, after all, do we pass chocolate truffles in cocoa, don't we? Unless you are craving Bollywood flavors and you don't want to try a Gulab Jamoun… or more simply some stuffed puffs or coconut cakes.
The stuffed meatballs
We have not yet talked about what very often makes meatballs even more fascinating: the filling.
What to put in your meatballs?
- in Italy, the rice balls hide a small piece of mozzarella or a little ragù with peas;
- In Japan, onigiri, wrapped in nori seaweed, are stuffed with a little fish or a prune.
- Potato balls can afford a little bit of everything and hide a mini meatball inside (to cook first), or onions and bacon like Swedish kroppkaka meatballs.
- Meatballs can contain a small piece of cheese ... or, again, a little mozzarella!
- exception that confirms the rule, Scottish eggs, consisting of a hard-boiled egg covered with minced sausage, for example, breaded and then fried. Delicious if we don't have high cholesterol problems!