Thursday, December 3, 2009

At's a Spicy Meatball!

Alka Seltzer's "Spicy Meatball" - 1969, courtesy of DDB New York
Sometimes it's hard being a California Irish-Mexican living in a New York Italian neighborhood. California being such a godless land of fruits & nuts, one forgets that the Sabbath is taken seriously in other, more pious parts of the world. So it is that on Sundays I can usually be overheard cursing the Church under my breath when Arthur Avenue virtually shuts down to trade. Granted, the bakery ovens still churn out loaves, and the restaurants are all open, but when lamb and fresh herbs are on the shopping list, I won't be checking off items at the corner deli.
And that is how this became a blog post on pork meatballs.
Quick & Easy Meatballs
  • 1lb pork loin or boneless chops, cubed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 oz pitted green olives
  • 2 oz sun dried tomatoes
  • 2 oz toasted pin nuts
  • ½ Tbsp basil, chopped
  • ½ Tbsp thyme, chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • ¾ Tbsp olive oil
  • 1lb orzo pasta
  • 2½ cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cup water
Pulse pork, garlic, olives tomatoes, pine nuts, herbs and seasonings in a food processor until finely minced, but not puréed. With clean wet hands, form pork into golf ball-sized portions. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat and fry meatballs until browned on all sides. Add ½ cup of the stock, and simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, set the remaining 2 cups stock and 2 cups water to boil in a large stock pot. Add orzo and cook to al dente. Drain. Pile orzo onto a platter and arrange meatballs on top. Drizzle the sauce over the meat. Garnish, and bring to the table!
My meatballs were every bit as good as what I was hoping for with lamb, as if there was ever any doubt. The pork was just cooked through with no pink color and still lots of tender goodness. This is one of those flexible recipes. Think of what works for you: capers and dill, sautéed mushrooms and black olives, pimento and caramelized shallots. Follow your impulses!
There are so many nutritional plusses with pork, but that's not why I love it. Nope, I eat so much pork because it's flavorful, tender and juicy. It's hard to screw up a good cut of pork. You'd have to really hate cooking or be one of Dick Cheney's henchmen to ruin it. There are two keys to turning out excellent dishes: low & slow cooking for those fall-off-the-bone roasts and shanks, or quick searing, just reaching a safe internal temperature (145° to 160° depending on who you ask), for melt-in-your-mouth leaner cuts. I'm an acolyte in both temples.
By the numbers, it's hard to fault pork. An eight ounce serving has only 11g of fat, 4g of the saturated kind. It's sick with protein (65g) and minerals like potassium and phosphorus (1273g and 726g respectively). The only caveat on a warning label would highlight cholesterol counts: 170g per serving. So this isn't really your breakfast, lunch and dinner protein source. But if it's on the menu once or twice a week, you'll probably live a long, happy, healthy life. Yeah, I think about these things as I'm preparing recipes for you, and dinner for me!
Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food

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