Szechuan Braised Meatballs

Goodness, I love meatballs.  But first, a desperate plea to my fellow food bloggers.

Can you please, PLEASE, stop posting such an overabundance of delicious-looking, earthy, seasonal recipes?  Just for maybe, like, one day.  That's all I need.

You see, my brain is in complete overload.  I can't keep up with all of the apple, butternut squash, pumpkin, walnut, turkey, molasses, and ginger recipes that you've been sharing with me. 

The situation is that the soup, stew, stuffed pork loin, chili, cookie and apple pie recipes are piling up over here, making me feel like such an underachiever for letting them linger out there unmade.  I really can't handle that.

From old and cherished to new and funky, I want to make it all. 

In fact, I'm seriously considering calling in sick to whip up everything in my refrigerator, with a little help from the seasonal ingredient display at the grocery store, until I feel as accomplished as you all appear. 

True, calling in sick wouldn't technically be lying.  Har har.

But please, for the sake of my sanity (and my employment status), help a girl out and take the day off tomorrow so I can catch up with you.

Phew.  Thanks.

Where was I?  Oh yes, meatballs!

I have to admit, I have never made an Asian-style meatball before.  Usually my kind of meatball is covered in zesty tomato sauce and piled high on top of spaghettiiiiii, all covered with cheeeeeese. (Too much?)

But, in the spirit of trying new things, I'm trying a new thing.  While these meatballs technically don't address my obsessive need burning desire to bake and roast all things autumn, braising is all the rage right now as a cool-weather cooking method in which meat is cooked partially covered with liquid, and then simmered slowly at a low temperature.  See?  I'm one leg up already.

These meatballs came out incredibly moist and spicy, while the sauce was thick and hearty with just the right amount of tang.  I served them over soba noodles with steamed broccoli on the side for a complete meal.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I must get back to plotting apple pie charts (get it?!) and making graphical summaries of pumpkin puree vs. butternut squash usage over time for future posts.  Stay tuned.

Szechuan Braised Meatballs
Inspired by Saveur
Yields 4 servings

1 lb 93% lean ground beef
1 5-6 oz can water chestnuts, rinsed and finely chopped
2 tsp plus 1 tbs corn starch, divided
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
1 c reduced fat beef broth
4 tsp canola oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 c Szechuan stir-fry sauce
4 cups cabbage, shredded
2 scallions, sliced (optional)

Gently mix beef, water chestnuts, 2 tsp cornstarch, salt/pepper, cinnamon, and fennel in a medium bowl until combined. 

Shape the mixture into 12 balls (about 2 tbs each to make 1 1/2-inch meatballs). 

Whisk the broth and the remaining 1 tbs cornstarch in a small bowl until smooth. 

Add 2 tsp of the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook, turning once, until brown, about 3 minutes total.  Remove to a plate.

Add the remaining 2 tsp oil to the skillet.  Add the garlic and crushed red pepper, stirring to cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the reserved broth mixture, Szechuan sauce, and cabbage.  Cook, stirring, until the cabbage is just wilted, about 2 minutes. 

Reduce the heat to a simmer, add back in the meatballs, cover, and cook until the sauce is thickened and the meatballs are cooked through, 8-10 minutes.

Serve the meatballs over Chinese noodles, pasta, or rice, and sprinkle with scallions. 

1 comment:

Joanne said...

I feel EXACTLY the same way! I bookmark about sixty recipes every day and I can't possibly live to make them all! Yikes.

I love that that these have some fall spices in them, though! Definitely an original take on meatballs!

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