Hearty Meatball Stew

Oh hey it’s me again.  Isn’t this fun?  Isn’t my presence once again doing so much for your life?  
Question.  Do you like meatballs?  You do?  Hey that’s awesome because I happen to have a meatball recipe right here on this blog that you’re on!  What a world.

But first, the truth.  My husband and I went on a luxurious date this weekend. We ate Mexican food at 5:30pm, saw a movie at 7:45 (*bonus* I managed to stay awake), and were home and in bed by 10.  If that doesn’t sound ideal to you then let’s not talk.  My in-laws were kind enough to watch the wee one, and I really have no complaints.
Except that we had to eat dinner at 5-freaking-30.
Yeah, I know.  What am I even talking about?  I go to bed at, like, 9:30pm, but I’m asleep on the couch long before that.  I’m already an 80-year-old, so I can’t exactly complain about catching the early bird special.  But I will.  I don’t like it.
So what do we do now?  We make stew.
You’re probably all like yawn, Allison, stew again?, to which I’d be all like come on, hear me out, to which you’d probably still be like meh, I don’t know, and what does this have to do with anything you were just talking about?, and then I’d come at you with but I’m about to roll together beef AND sausage to make the most lovely meatballs you’ve ever laid eyes on, and I’m about to make some sort of a point.  Can’t people BE A LITTLE OPEN-MINDED IN THIS LIFE?.
Think you can keep that cursor away from the big red X for just a leeetle longer?
So…this meatball stew!  It’s hearty as the title suggests.  Let’s go over it real quick.

You basically get in there with your bare hands, smash some meat together with bread crumbs and egg, and then roll it into spherical shapes.  Balls, if you will.  After that, you sauté some onions and peppers, add in all these green beans, potatoes, tomatoes, and broth, and then simmer it all together until rich and savory and delicious and adult.
Best part?  You can make this at any point in your busy day.  You can make it at 5pm when you roll in the door, even if the thought of eating doesn’t appeal until much later.  You can make this when your kids are still pulling on your pant legs and eating their snacks from a trap or a pouch or from under the couch cushions, and be comforted by the fact that it will sit patiently and deliciously on the stove until a magical time later when there’s most likely to be wine involved.

And during this magical, adult, non-5:30 dinner time, if you can hold out longer than three bites before singing a song of sixpence, a pocket full of rye, then you’ve gotten the hang of all this quicker than I.
But seriously, who is putting black birds in a pie?  Is that a thing?

Hearty Meatball Stew
Adapted from a recipe by Giada DiLaurentiis
Serves 4

1 slice whole wheat sandwich bread, torn into small pieces
1 lb lean ground sirloin
2 turkey sausages, casings removed
1 egg
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch strips
1 large russet potato, peeled, and sliced into 1/3-inch slices
4 oz green beans, trimmed, and cut into 1-in pieces
15-oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 c fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
Parmesan cheese for serving (optional)

In a medium bowl, add the bread and 3 tbs water.  Mash to a paste with a spatula or wooden spoon.  Add the beef, sausage, egg, oregano, and salt/pepper.  Blend the mixture thoroughly with your hands.  Form 10-16 meatballs, depending on size, but making sure each are roughly the same size.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add 1 tbs of the olive oil, and drop the meatballs into the skillet.  You may have to cook them in multiple batches so that you don't overcrowd the pan.  Cook until the bottoms are set and brown, about 2 minutes.  Turn each meatball onto an uncooked side and cook until the bottoms are set and brown.  Repeat on all 4 sides.  When brown on all sides, transfer to a large plate, and repeat until all of the meatballs are browned.

Heat the remaining tbs of olive oil in the same skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onions, pepper, and additional salt/pepper, and cook until soft, about 4 minutes.  Stir in the potatoes, beans, tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and chicken broth.  Bring the mixture to a boil.

Add back in the meatballs, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan, and cook until the potatoes are tender and the meatballs are cooked through, about 20 minutes.

To serve, ladle the stew and the meatballs into your bowl and top with Parmesan cheese as desired.

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