Thursday, February 16, 2012

Polish meatballs (an old family recipe...with a twist)

I used to ALWAYS have ground beef in the freezer...I check the sales every week..and whenever it was a decent price ($1.69 or less per lb.) I would stock up...

but for whatever reason..I haven't seen ground beef go on sale in over a year! and with the every day price being comparable to that of a decent steak...I just can't bring myself to buy it :/
who would have ever thought HAMBURGER would become a LUXURY item?! my stockpile has been gone for a few months now...

but last week, our regular store FINALLY had it on sale (for $2.69 a pound..good grief :/ ) much as I never would have imagined I would ever find myself getting excited about ground beef (especially at THAT price!) ..I did my little happy dance! hahaha

it seemed like it had been FOREVER since we even had ground beef in the house! I started mentally flipping through my recipe files..and landed on one of my very favorite old family I started to gather ingredients I thought it might be a nice idea to share it most people have heard of SWEDISH meatballs...polish meatballs are probably not as well known...and well..that just ain't right!

actually..there are many variations in all 'nationalities' of meatball...traditional polish meatballs are very similar to swedish meatballs..the easiest difference to see right away is that traditional swedish meatballs are served with a creamy gravy...polish are served with more of a salisbury steak-like 'brown gravy'

my family recipe has a slight twist from the traditional...and then I go ahead and give it ANOTHER twist of my own

where traditional polish meatballs are made with torn bread or bread crumbs and marjoram in the mix and are often cooked on a bed of onion & celery (which is later used to make the gravy) ...somehow my family (probably in an effort to use up leftovers and make the meat stretch even further) decided to mix the meat with prepared from the thanksgiving turkey!

because the stuffing is full of celery & onions and seasoned with poultry seasoning, which contains get all the traditional flavors...but with the added awesomeness of pillowy little bites of delicious stuffing all throughout - YUM!

then I twist it a bit further by scrapping the traditional brown gravy...instead I use a component of another old family 'recipe' grandfather's favorite..stuffed flank steak..which is braised in a tomatoey sauce..thanks to the gourmetification of all the old 'undesirable' cuts of meat..I can't afford things like flank steak..but since that recipe is also made with regular old stuffing..using the 'sauce' from this seemed logical to me...actually I was confusing the two in my head but thought what the hell..polish meatballs would be awesome with a tomato-based gravy! ...especially since they're served over buttered egg noodles :)

so it is (actual recipe below)

first you make some stuffing...

unless you already have some leftover which case I suggest you skip this step! hehehe

then you mix the stuffing into some ground beef...divide evenly and shape into patties (I know..not very meatball-y...that's just the way we've always done it...I'm sure you could make them round instead..whatever floats your boat! :) ...and brown on each side..add the sauce fixins (a whoppin' TWO ingredients..woo hoo!) and let it all simmer together until the meat is cooked through...

not the best pic..but you get the idea...if the sauce isn't thick enough for ya you can add a little corn starch/water to it..just make sure ya cook it a couple more minutes to cook out the raw corn starch flavor...but ya want it to be able to coat the egg noodles this :)

I tried to get a decent pic of the inside of the 'meatball' so you could see the way they're studded all throughout with soft delicious bites of stuffingy goodness...but bein' winter in NY there was no natural light at that time of night to get a decent pic...hopefully ya get the idea :)

the recipe: (makes 4 good size patties)

for the meatballs you'll need:

1 pound of ground beef
6 slices of white bread - I like to toast mine
1 medium onion - chopped
4 or 5 celery stalks - chopped (including leaves..they add great flavor!)
1 egg
a tablespoon or so of poultry seasoning - I use BELL'S
salt & pepper to taste (I almost always forget to add salt and pepper...the rest of the ingredients are so full of flavor I don't even notice...but ours is a very low salt house you may feel differently)

for the gravy:

round about one part beef broth - preferably low sodium it's always best if YOU control the salt!
to two parts tomato this case I used V8 because that's what I had available

I just used one 14 oz can of beef broth...and used that can to measure out the tomato juice


saute onions and celery in a little butter & olive oil until soft and starting to get a yummy golden color...let cool
mix celery & onions with the toasted bread cubes, egg and poultry seasoning until it's all nice and mixed together
combine stuffing and ground beef and form into 4 patties
brown on each side and then pour tomato juice and beef broth into the pan and let it all simmer together slowly until the meat is cooked through...about 15 minutes
thicken gravy with a little corn starch mixed with cold water...make sure ya cook it another couple minutes just to make sure there's no raw corn starch flavor
serve over buttered egg noodles

note: I'm the queen of lazy so I do this all in one pan...if I have to make the stuffing I then cook the meatballs in the same pan I sauteed the onions & celery in...ya just have to make sure ya use a pan that's deep enough to comfortably hold the gravy!

~enjoy :)