Sunday, June 18, 2017

Meat Cubes (Meatballs Don't Have to Be Spherical)

Meatballs need not be rounded.

Why should meat balls be balls at all? I mean, they're time consuming to roll into the ball shape, and if you're frying them, they are hard to brown on all sides--because they have no sides. 
Meat cubes, on the other hand, make so much more sense to me. They consist of the same ingredients, they have the same amount of meat, they taste exactly the same, and they're so much less labor intensive. Plus they won't ever roll off the plate. These are also perfect for my homemade open faced meatball sandwiches (which, come to think of it, I've never blogged about).
To me, this is a happy medium between my crazy enthusiasm for homemade foods and my modern-day need for a little more convenience. I may never again roll meat into the shape of a ball, and I'm good with that.
Come join me in this rebellion against traditional arbitrary food shapes. Let's make our lives just a little bit easier while retaining all of the goodness and deliciousness of homemade cooking.
Note: When I made these the first time, I made only the half recipe, and they turned out rather thin. The second time I did a full batch, and got the chunkier cubes you see in most of the pics. They look more fun this way, and get more meat per cube.

Meat Cubes (half recipe at the end of this post)

  • 1 cup breadcrumbs (I use gluten free breadcrumbs from gf French rolls)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 small onions, finely diced
  • 10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 eggs
  • 5 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 5 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 5 pounds ground ground (90/10) 
  • more vegetable oil 
  • Line a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
    In a large bowl, place the breadcrumbs and pour the milk over them. Allow to sit while you prepare the onions & garlic.
  • Heat the 5 tablespoons vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Saute onions until translucent. Add garlic, stir, and cook one minute more. Remove from heat and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes. 
  • To the breadcrumbs and milk, add the eggs, parsley, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and Parmesan cheese. Stir to incorporate all ingredients. Mix in the onions and garlic a little at a time (so you don't cook the eggs). Add the ground beef. With your hands (I use plastic gloves for this), gently incorporate the beef into the other ingredients until the mixture is uniform. 
  • Place 3/4 of the meat mixture in prepared 9 x 13 inch pan and spread out to evenly in the pan. Cover and freeze 60  to 90 minutes. Form the rest into balls and flatten, and you'll be cooking those for dinner tonight. You could put the other fourth into a smaller pan and freeze and cut those too. (I'm only really telling you what I did--only 3/4 of the mixture should be put into the 9x13 pan.)
  • When meat is mostly frozen, lift out of the pan by grabbing the edges of the parchment paper and lifting. Place on a cutting surface, and using a large sharp knife, cut into about 48 cubes (6 x 8), or 1.5 inch squares.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add about 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and tilt pan to distribute oil evenly. Place as many meat cubes in the pan that fit comfortably with a little space between. Cook until well browned on the first side, and then turn using a metal spatula. Cook until well browned on the second side and so on until most of the sides have browned. Remove cooked meat cubes to a clean baking sheet and continue frying meat cubes in batches until complete, adding more oil to the pan as needed. If you want the cubes cooked well all the way through, you can place the pan in a 325 degree oven for an additional 20 minutes.
  • Use as many cubes as you want for now. Allow the rest to cool completely, place on a freezer paper lined baking sheet and freeze until solid. Move frozen cooked meat cubes to a large zip top bag and place in the freezer. Use within about 2 months.
Makes about 4 dozen meat cubes
I would allow about 4 cubes per serving.

Once the sauce is added, you don't even care about the shape.
Meat Cubes Half Recipe

  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I use gluten free breadcrumbs from gf French rolls)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 small onions, finely diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 1/2 pounds ground ground (90/10) 
  • canola oil 

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