The Functional Hermit

musings from a homebody

Archive for September 2010

NFL Week 2 Menu: Ultimate Turkey Meatballs

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I made these a few months back and thought at the time I had discovered the ultimate turkey meatball recipe. I’m glad to report that after making these a second time, they were even better.

A lot of turkey meatballs I’ve had have been bland, dry and unsatisfying. These are moist, tender and slap-yourself-delicious. I’m glad to report that this isn’t because of some exotic or expensive ingredient either, rather just the right ingredients at the right amounts.

In a bowl I combined 1 1/4 pounds of ground turkey (93% lean), one finely chopped onion, two beaten eggs, 1 1/4 cup of bread crumbs, 1 cup of whole milk, a bit of hot sauce (sorry honey), 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of salt and plenty of ground pepper. Then I stick both hands in and mix together by hand. Around this time comes the one challenge that comes with this recipe: the consistency.

This mixture is very ‘loose’ and wet. It was a challenge to roll them into meatballs and then for that to maintain its shape. It’s not really hard, just something to keep in mind. I dusted the plate and the meatballs with flour to help them keep from sticking to the plate and each other.

I baked them in a 400-degree oven on a very well greased piece of aluminum foil, placed on a baking sheet. After 12 minutes I took a peek and they didn’t look quite done so I gave them another 3-4 minutes. At this point, they still didn’t have that done ‘look’ but I broke one open and ate it. Bingo. It was perfect.

Then I finished them off in a quick and easy tomato sauce. For that I sauteed a diced onion and some minced garlic over olive oil, then added a 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes and half a jar of Newman’s Own tomato sauce I had left over from the other night. I seasoned that with plenty of salt, pepper and a little bit of sugar.

Once the sauce was heated through I put in the meatballs and kept them over a very low heat for about an hour. To serve them I used some wheat sub rolls, spooned the meatballs and some sauce onto the bread and then topped that with some mozzarella cheese.

These were the best meatball subs we’ve ever made, and we’ve made our fair share. The meatballs were so good I had to have another one just because. I hope they’re just as good tonight. We made a good-sized batch…

Written by the bee dub

September 20, 2010 at 3:13 pm

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NFL Kickoff Menu: Beef brisket returns to glory

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What an awesome weekend. It was so awesome, I needed a good day or so to recover. Saturday had quality college football games all day long, the highlight of which was James Madison taking out Virginia Tech. That sick sound you may hear in the distance is the squealing of Boise State fans whining over losing their only quality non-conference win of the entire season. I friggin’ hate Boise State. I have zero respect for any program that schedules the softest schedule possible while playing in the softest conference in the land – and then claiming they deserve a spot in the BCS every year.

Granted, they’ve done well with what they have but there’s no way they’re on par with an SEC, Big 10, Pac 10, Big 12 or any other program with any sack at all. But enough about blue astroturf wannabees. This weekend was glorious because of three of the most beautiful letters ever strung together: NFL.

The opening weekend of pro football is always a special time for me. Last year I went and spent it with a friend in Chicago and he wanted to start making that an annual tradition. Unfortunately, work schedules got in the way this year so I was stuck at home. But what would make the best Sunday of the year even more delicious? Easy. Sweet and sour brisket.

This was our very first go-to dish that we used to try and impress good friends or out of town visitors. Lately, it’s fallen to the wayside in favor of the BBQ pork butt or carnitas. But sometimes it’s best to go back where you started. I also found a little tweak to the recipe that turns the cooking liquid into more of a sauce rather than a gooey, sticky mess.

I got myself a 3.75-pound brisket, trimmed away a bit of the fat – though I’ve learned not to trim it all away – and then seasoned both sides with a generous amount of salt, pepper and three cloves of minced garlic. Then I heated some vegetable oil in Lou Gehrig, my workhorse of a dutch oven, and browned the brisket to a nice, brown headstart. Previously I would add two sliced onions while doing this but this time, I only used one. Usually I’m all about adding way more onions than called for but something told me to hold back a little here.

I browned the brisket on both sides, removed it and then continued cooking the onions until they began to brown.

Once the onions looked right, I added half a cup of red wine and half a cup of beef broth. There was a lot of stuff stuck to the bottom of Lou Gehrig and the liquid sucked all that awesomeness right back in. After a minute or so, I then added a bottle of chili sauce, half a cup of brown sugar and half a cup of cider vinegar. I kept cooking and stirring all that until it combined, then returned the brisket to the pan and used a spoon to cover it with the sauce and onions.

I put the cover on and then put it all into a 325 degree oven for two and a half hours. Afterwards, Lou Gehring revealed that the effort was greatly rewarded.

Cutting back to one onion really let the cooking liquid stay more of a liquid. It was still thick and delicious but it also resembled something more of a sauce. The meat was perfectly cooked and tender. Everything could not have come out better.

Now with the sauce being more of a sauce, it can be spooned over the meat and is thick enough to cover it yet still runny enough to settle into every nook and cranny of meaty goodness.

Couple all this with a NY Giants win and the Sunday couldn’t have gone any better. Actually, I made some serious fantasy football fuckups, so I could have been a little smarter there. But otherwise, it was the kind of NFL opening Sunday that happily keeps me happily planted at home all day and night.

Written by the bee dub

September 14, 2010 at 10:18 am

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Labor Day Menu: Carnitas

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Due to a family health crisis and camera technology issues, I’m a bit behind on my blogging. But the Functional Hermit must roll on. Thus, a few days late, I bring you the epicurean finale to our long, holiday weekend.

I was going to save the carnitas for the first Sunday of the NFL season, otherwise known as ‘the greatest fucking day to be a man and drink beer,’ but I just couldn’t hold back. I’ll have to come up with something else suitably grandiose and indulgent for this weekend.

I’m at the point with this recipe where I’ve started playing around with it and I already know what else I’m going to change the next time I make it. It all started with a 3.75-pound pork butt. I cut it into one-inch cubes, trimming away whatever fat I could along with the bone and then seasoned the cubes with just under two tablespoons of seasoned salt.

Then I heated up some vegetable oil in Lou Gehrig, the workhorse dutch oven of my kitchen, and browned the pork in two batches. While browning, this was a good time to preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

When all the pork is browned, I drained out the fat and oil and then had a lot of crispy brown deliciousness stuck to the bottom. To this I added just over a cup of orange juice and scraped all that awesomeness so it was no longer stuck and infused itself into the orange juice.

Now it was time to add a handful of chopped cilantro, six garlic cloves, one quartered onion and two sliced jalapeno peppers. The second jalapeno was a new addition and next time I’m definitely adding another onion to cook the pork with.

Then I returned the browned pork into all this and mixed well.

I put the lid back on and then placed this into a 300 degree oven for three and a half hours. Then, it’s Ari Gold time: Boom!

There are a lot of ways to serve carnitas but I just stick with the ‘throw the shit in a tortilla’ method. Last time I served it with some avocado slices, fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime. Now, I love me some avocado but as crazy as this sounds, I think these ‘carnitas tacos’ are better off without it.

My wife performed her foolproof ‘steam the tortillas in the oven’ trick and we were ready to rock.┬áThis time, inside the tortilla I rolled with the carnitas, some diced red onion, a squeeze of lime and some healthy dollops of hot sauce (sorry honey).

It was good eatin’ and a great way to cap off a weekend with the best weather we’ve seen in these parts in a long, long time.

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Written by the bee dub

September 8, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Posted in Hermit Grub

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