Ok, so turns out I really don’t care much for beef. I know, right? When did that happen? I think it actually happened about three years ago, but I haven’t really been keeping terribly good track, so there it is, I’m going to say that I put two and two together sometime fairly recently.* And so, therefore, our family dinner go-tos are generally Something Made With Chicken.** Which almost always means a roast chicken, followed the next day by chicken croquettes made with the leftover meat, and then a soup a few days later based on chicken stock from boiling the bones down.***

And then there’s ground chicken. It’s on sale at the grocery pretty regularly, with a lot of buy-one-get-one, and it’s not beef (which leaves me nonplussed), and it’s not turkey (which I really don’t like in very much – I think I just don’t like the smell of it cooking), so I’ve learned to do delicious things with it.**** This week I figured out how to make some amazing asian meatballs. Here’s the scoop:

Asian Chicken Meatballsserves four (three if one is a hungry teenager)

1 1# package of ground chicken (not ground chicken breast- that stuff’s too dry for meatballs)
4 large scallions, cut into thin rounds
4 finely diced cloves of garlic
3 Tbsp finely diced ginger
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 sprinkle of salt

Mix that all up, and form into meatballs (pro-tip: work with wet hands) – you should get about twelve out of it, up to sixteen if you make them small. Heat a nonstick skillet, and toss them around until they brown uniformly, and then a few more minutes to make sure they’re cooked all the way through. (A note on that tossing them around – when you put them in the pan, let them sit a few before you start moving them around, so’s they don’t fall apart; there’s no egg in these, so you’re depending on the meat itself to do the holding up. So that means mild jostling until they’re cooking through for sure. I’d say, when they start to brown up on the bottom, you’re good to turn them over, then when that side browns, you should be safe to start keeping them moving.)Once cooked through, allow to rest for five minutes or so (really – it does make a difference).

While the meatballs are cooking, it’s sauce time. You’ll start with regular old packaged Hoisin Sauce, which you can get either at the asian grocery, or at an american grocery store with a good ethnic foods section. But you’re going to cut it with some stuff. So make some black tea (or oolong – that tastes perfectly fine, too). Steep a couple tea bags and a pinch of hot pepper flakes in a cup of boiled water until you have a rather strong (and spicy!) cup of business. Put two or three tablespoons of the Hoisin Sauce in a bowl (it will be quite thick, and also quite sweet), and cut it with the tea and peppers mixture until the sauce is to taste and as thin as you would like.

I serve these meatballs with rice and some steamed green veggie (currently I’m having a love affair with broccoli rabe, but you can also do regular broccoli, zucchini, asparagus, or baby bok choy), and the sauce on the side for everyone to put as much or as little on as they want. Delish!

***

*Actually, I probably came to the conclusion over the last few weeks because I’ve actually purchased beef for dinners a few times, as the new butcher shop (S&S) shows it off so yummy in the cases. Also it’s been inexpensive. Also, meh, I’m still underwhelmed.
**Altho’, that seems to be changing as I’ve found some really great (easy! quick! cheap! TASTY!) recipes that are vegetarian in the last month, and have been making those a regularly.
***Waste not, want not. I’m frequently haunted by the fact that a chicken’s life is worth somewhere between six and eight dollars, according to the grocery store. It seems like a pittance for a life, even as it’s the kind of pittance that I can afford for our table. And so, I’m intent to honor that bird by using as much of it bird as I possibly can. Best bet is to make it stretch into three meals. I’d like to know what I can do with the bag o’ business that comes inside the chicken, as it kind of hurts my feelings to throw it out (and to add insult to injury, the cats won’t eat them giblets – I’ve tried) – if you have any good recipes, please let me know.
****Hello, chicken burger. Hello, meatball. Hello, larb. The list goes on.

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