Sweet & Sour Meatballs with Polenta

No offense to T.S. Eliot, but I firmly believe March is the cruelest month.  It’s long, for one.  There are no holidays.  It still gets dark early, and it’s still cold.  The tourists are in full force, so you’re actually avoiding the cherry blossoms, at all costs.  And someone chose March to be Women’s History Month – which don’t get me wrong – this is important – but how come we’ve got to cram all the events and all the meetings and all the speeches and all the things into March?  I’m pretty sure – actually I know – that women are awesome all year round.  (AKA, I’m really lucky and work on issues that I feel incredibly passionate about, but I’m also le tired.  Growing a human is hard.)

However, despite the lack of posts and despite whining above, rest assured, we’ve been dominating Cooking Light’s March issue.  No one is going to call these meatballs pretty – but they were delicious.  And polenta…it’s the new staple in our house.

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Sweet & Sour Meatballs with Polenta

for the polenta:

  • 3-4 cups chicken or veggie stock
  • salt, pepper
  • 3/4 cup ground polenta
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter
  • shredded cheese of your choice

for the meatballs

  • about a pound of lean ground meat (we used turkey)
  • splash sesame oil (this stuff is powerful)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • splash soy sauce
  • pinch of panko or breadcrumbs

for the sauce

  • about 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup ketchup (yes, really)
  • big dash sriracha or hot sauce
  • about 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • big dash of worcestshire sauce
  1. Make your meatballs.  Combine the turkey, onion, garlic, sesame oil soy sauce and breadcrumbs.  Roll into about 15-20 meatballs.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the meatballs and cook until brown on all sides, about six minutes.  Remove the meatballs from the pan and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, get your stock boiling for your polenta.  (Note: you may need way more liquid at the end.)
  4. Add water, ketchup, sriracha, oyster and worcestshire sauce to the pan and whisk it up.  Return meatballs to the pan and cover, simmering until cooked through, about 5-8 minutes.
  5. When the stock is boiling, add salt and pepper.  Gradually whisk in the polenta.  Depending on what kind you use – it may take up to 25 minutes.  Add butter and cheese and season to taste.
  6. Serve the whole shebang with a healthy side salad – this kind of heaviness needs a little greenery.

 

The Verdict:

We are the converted.  Polenta – never again pre-prepared.  Ever.  THIS is the way to go.

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Asian-inspired Grilled Salmon Salad

This past weekend is now officially known as the Epic Weekend of Fun.  Just to run some of the numbers quickly:

  • One dip in an ice cold river.
  • Not one, but two epic cover bands.
  • The trifecta of lunches: brisket, burgers, and fried chicken.
  • Four amigos.
  • Five mile hike somewhere 45 minutes from the city, which felt like it was about 4500 miles from the city.
  • (Far too many) bottles of wine.  Let’s not put a number on this one.

This week, I’m thinking about atoning for our sins (side note: this seems to be a theme around here).  To the Husband’s chagrin, this means hitting up the fish train.  Honey: welcome to tonight’s dinner.

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Asian-Inspired Grilled Salmon

  • about 4-5 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha
  • 1/2 inch ginger, grated
  • salt, pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound salmon fillets, skin on
  • 1 bag arugula/baby kale/spinach
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • cilantro, to serve
  1. In a small bowl, combine soy sauce through garlic and mix well.  Set aside about a third of the mixture to act as your dressing later on.  In a large flat bottom bowl, pour the soy sauce mixture and lay the salmon, flesh side down (to increase absorption).  Let it sit for about 20-30 minutes – any longer and the soy sauce will start to toughen up the protein.
  2. Heat a grill pan over medium heat and coat with cooking spray.  Add salmon, flesh side down, and grill about 4-5 minutes.  Using tongs, flip to the other side and grill until the middle is no longer pink.  The skin will sort of neatly fall away from the fish as you remove it.
  3. Assemble your salad ingredients (arugula through avocado) and lay your cooked fish on top.  Dress with the reserve soy sauce mixture + feel virtuous.

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The Verdict:

This is a super easy, super quick way to feel super virtuous and healthy.  Of course, we’ll be taking our nightly trip to Mr. Yogato right after this.  We finally have enough stamps for a free fro-yo! #theepicweekendcontinues

Gorgonzola Sausage Burger

I was a “vegetarian” for about ten years (i.e., I focused only on consuming pasta and cheese, and found that adopting the mantle of “vegetarian” was helpful in my quest to avoid all foods that were not pasta and cheese).

Burgers put an end to that.

The year was 2002, the setting, a 4th of July BBQ at a high school friend’s house.  Two (vegetarian) friends and I, bowled over by the smell of the grill, steathily helped ourselves to a burger.  We made our way to the garage so no one could see us, and carefully passed the stolen burger between the three of us, sharing bites, until it was gone.  Incidentally, so was my vegetarianism.

Thirteen years later, I actually love vegetables and eat far more than pasta and cheese.  (Side note: YAY!) And at least once a summer, I get that BBQ smell wafting under my nose and I just know: tonight is burger night.  Thanks to Husband for always indulging me.

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Gorgonzola Sausage Burger

  • 1 pound high quality ground beef
  • optional but delicious: one hot Italian sausage link
  • big dash Worcestershire sauce
  • big handful crushed red pepper
  • salt, pepper
  • 1/4 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  • cooking spray
  • to serve:
    • good buns, toasted
    • Sriracha mayo (i.e., one part Sriracha sauce to two parts mayonnaise, whipped together)
    • pickled onions and/or cucumbers – we used the basic method outlined here
    • sliced tomato
    • red onion
    • lettuce/arugula
    • avocado
    • potato chips!
  1. In a large bowl, mix your meat, Worcestershire, spices, onion and garlic together.  Form four large patties (don’t overwork the meat).  Note – the fattiness from the sausage and the ground beef will help to bind the patty together.  If not, add an egg and some breadcrumbs to help your cause!
  2. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat and spray with cooking spray.  Add your patties – cooking two at a time, or so – and cook about four minutes per side.  I like to tent the pan with aluminum foil in order to help the middle cook through a bit.
  3. Prep your buns! Add Gorgonzola to the bottom of each bun – this will help it melt.  (You can also add to the top of the burger as it cooks, either way.)  Add the meat patty and your favorite toppings.  Obviously, don’t forget the chips.

The Verdict:

Dear Husband, who prepared these last night: these are even better than the garage burger. Now, if only we had a backyard grill…