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Frugal Recipe of the Week: Buffalo Meatballs

Frugal Recipe of the Week: Buffalo Meatballs

I made a batch of meatballs the other day which were delicious, but interestingly enough, also stretched just under two pounds of meat into at least four meals if not six. I’m looking at a lot of cookbooks right now for BookSlut, and this recipe is very loosely adapted from the one in the A16 cookbook.

I used buffalo because it’s readily available here, and because this story in the New York Times (and this one about how Costco actually tests for E. Coli) only amped up my deep suspicion of all ground beef, even when I know the butchers at my supermarket have ground it themselves. Buffalo is more local, and even though it was more expensive, I just felt better about it. Plus, I didn’t need very much.

  • .75 pound buffalo (or a pound, I split a 1.5 pound package in half)
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 ounces pancetta, diced very fine (or chopped in the food processor)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup ricotta (I used the end of a container of Greek yogurt instead because that’s what I had on hand)
  • 6 ounces bread (about half a baguette), reduced to crumbs in a food processor
  • 2 ounces shredded parmesan or asiago cheese
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 onion, diced finely
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 tbsp. fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 3 tbsp. finely chopped parsley

First,  beat the eggs, milk and ricotta until just incorporated. Add all the other ingredients to a big bowl, add the egg mixture, and mix thoroughly with your hands. You don’t want the mixture to become gummy, but you want an even distribution of ingredients.

Using a soup spoon or a small scoop, roll out golf-ball sized meatballs. Put them on sheet pans and bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. After you’ve baked them off, this is where you decide what you’re eating tonight, and what you’re saving for later. I figured 4 meatballs for each of us, which was plenty. The rest I put on one sheet pan and popped into the freezer. The next day they can be put in ziploc bags.

For the meatballs you plan to eat tonight. Put them in a casserole dish, and cover with tomato sauce. Cover the casserole tightly with foil and bake at 300 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Serve over lots of spaghetti with more cheese on top. (Preferably while watching baseball playoffs!)

Although I haven’t experimented with it yet, I imagine you could pop frozen meatballs into the casserole when you come home from work, cover with tomato sauce and cook for probably an hour and you’d have an easy mid-week dinner.

Wild Mushrooms

Wild Mushrooms

Big Bolete
Big Bolete

When my stepmother Susan was here last week, we went mushroom hunting. It’s been an uncharacteristically wet summer, and we really cleaned up. We found this gorgeous big bolete, which was nearly entirely clean of maggots (not always the case with these big ones), as well as a bunch of smaller boletes. It was a good haul and we only had throw out one of these for being too maggoty.

pile o'boletes
pile o'boletes

But the big excitement, at least for me, was that we found nearly five pounds of Chanterelles. I love chanterelles and this was the first summer I’d paid enough attention to the tiny clues mushroom people drop, and managed to find out where they grow around here.

sink full of chanterelles
sink full of chanterelles

They take a little time to clean up, since they tend to grow very close to the ground, so they pick up a lot of lichen and pine needles. Some people say not to wash mushrooms, but I always do. There’s so much dirt and stuff to be cleaned off, and since I’m going to sauté them up anyhow, I don’t worry too much about picking up a little extra water. I’d rather that than a big old pine needle in my mouth.

Chanterelles need to be put up differently from the boletes. We sliced the boletes and arranged them on cake racks, as I usually do, but chanterelles don’t dry well. So the way to put up chanterelles is to sauté them in butter until they give up all their moisture, then freeze them. What could be more festive than this sight?

chanterelles in butter
chanterelles in butter

Chanterelles sautéing in butter? Yum. You have to cook them down for quite a while — they’ll go from that bright orange to a sort of dull ochre, and they give up a lot more moisture than you’d think.

Of course you can also put some aside, as we did, and make a nice dish of Chicken with Chanterelles and Cream:

  • 1 chicken, cut up
  • 1 pound chanterelles
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 small bunch thyme
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup cream

Salt and pepper the chicken and brown thoroughly on all sides. Remove from the pan and add the shallots and chanterelles. Sauté until the chanterelles have given up most of their moisture, then return the chicken to the pan, add the garlic, the thyme and the wine. Simmer over low heat or pop into a 325 degree oven for 20-30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken to a platter and keep warm. Add the cream to the pan, bring to a boil and cook until the sauce just thickens. Pour over the chicken and serve with rice or noodles.