While not all food appreciation days are worth writing home about (National Turkey Neck Soup Day anyone?), National Meatball Day is definitely a day worthy of note given the amazing number of different dishes that can be created using the humble meatball. Celebrated on Tuesday, March 9, National Meatball Day is the perfect opportunity to try your hand at making the oh-so-easy meaty treat at home.
Food historians believe that meatballs were first created around the 2nd century BC in China, and from there moved across the Middle East and finally travelled the trade routes to make it throughout Europe. Today, just about every culture on the planet has their own version of meatballs and that’s proven by the array of different ways they are prepared and eaten around the world. Meatballs come in all forms including a delicious Japanese-style, grilled chicken meatball known as tsukune; Vietnamese chicken meatballs which are rolled in sugar before baking; Moroccan spiced lamb-and-rice meatballs spiced with aromatic saffron; Norwegian meatballs made with lamb and veal; curry meatballs from India, made with cashew butter; and the always popular spaghetti and meatballs created by Italian-American immigrants.
Of course here in South Africa, the meatball is better known as a frikkadel, and is usually prepared with beef mince, onion, bread, eggs and spices and then deep-fried or baked.
If you want to celebrate National Meatball Day and cook a fabulous meal for your friends and family, featuring the popular meatball, then try your hand at these recipes from the chefs at Capsicum Culinary Studio. There’s a recipe for delicious Asian Chicken Meatballs (courtesy Chef Chantel Williams, Rosebank campus) as well as a more relaxed recipe for Monster Meatballs (courtesy Chef Caren Marimuthu, Durban campus) which can be enjoyed in burger buns to create sliders!
Asian Chicken Meatballs with an Asian Dipping Sauce
500g chicken fillets
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
3g of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
3 tbsp of fresh coriander, chopped
1-2 red or green chillis, deseeded
Place all the ingredients in a food processor and combine until you get a fairly smooth consistency. Scoop up a tablespoon of the mixture and roll into balls, dust in flour and shallow fry for 3 to 5 minutes until golden brown and crispy.
Asian dipping sauce:
4 tbs soya sauce
1 tbs lime juice
1 tbs brown sugar or palm sugar
½ tbs sesame oil
Freshly chopped coriander
Whisk all the ingredients well and serve with the Asian chicken meatballs
Makes 12 slider meatballs or 36 regular sized meatballs.
“My go-to meatball recipe is one I most often use for making meatball sliders, hence the name ‘monster meatballs’ because it’s a little bigger than your average-sized meatball. Sliders are perfect for a family meal and can last up to 3 months in the freezer,” says Chef Caren Marimuthu.
500g ground beef
250g ground pork (can be substituted for finely diced bacon)
1 medium onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
5ml dried oreganum
5ml fresh thyme, minced
5ml fresh rosemary, minced
10ml salt & black pepper
1 egg, beaten
15g parmesan cheese, grated
30g butter, cubed (cold)
20ml olive oil
Prepare a baking tray by brushing it with oil or coating with baking spray.
Add ground beef and ground pork to a large bowl.
Add onion, garlic, breadcrumbs, spices and herbs to the ground meat and combine
Mix in beaten egg, milk and Parmesan to bind together.
Divide mixture into 12 equal portions. Place a single cube of butter into each portion (as the meatball cooks, the butter melts and adds moisture to the meatball).
Shape the meatball around the butter cube forming a ball.
Evenly coat each meatball in olive oil, place on a prepared baking tray and refrigerate for an hour.
To make Monster Sliders:
Preheat oven to 180°C
Fry meatballs in a little oil, over medium-high heat untill half done.
Once firm, gently press down using the back of a fork or spatula.
Slice 12 mini buns in half horizontally. Place bottom halves cut side up, onto a prepared baking tray.
Place a meatball on each roll.
Top meatballs with a tomato-based pasta sauce, add a couple of fresh basil leaves and grated cheddar and mozzarella.
Place bun tops over the meatballs and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until cheese has melted and sauce is heated through.
After years of working as an Editor and writer for popular websites like Joburg’s Darling, Cape Town’s Darling and Joburg.co.za, Crystal left her sanity and an established career in lifestyle journalism behind to follow her dream of creating a website for the intellectual and discerning woman. Today she spends her time chasing the thrill of being the first to know about ‘the next big thing’. She’ll try anything once and has been known to put her body, hair and health on the line – all in the name of research.