Sweet Baboo needs a new bed. The one he has doesn’t look so great – the metal support is broken, the boxspring is broken and the mattress is about 8 years old and it looks less than appealing. It’s had its day. I decided the time was right to help him get a new bed so it was easier for him to get a good night’s rest and his first thought was IKEA. As soon as he brought up the webpage, I started thinking about meatballs.
Why is it that our minds conjure up these strange connections? I guess the way to my heart really is through food!
IKEA’s cafeteria serves meatballs that you can find in any cookbook under the name “Swedish Meatballs” and really that has become the meatball de rigeur in many restaurants because it is inexpensive and easy to make. They are ok, but the kind I really like features rum. RUM! Just the mention of the word makes me light up!
Rum is great in desserts, but it is marvellous with red meat. Don’t believe me? Bake these meatballs and just try to resist eating them when they first come out of the oven – I dare you!
The first restaurant I ever worked in served both Swedish and Rum meatballs for brunch and this is where I learned to make them. The rum meatballs are not difficult, but they have a few extra ingredients to punch up the flavour:
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 2 Tbsp skim milk powder
- 1 minced clove elephant garlic
- 1 tsp rum extract
- 2 Tbsp soya sauce
- 260 g lean hamburger
Start by making the breadcrumbs. You can use croutons, bread or crackers if you don’t have a bag of actual breadcrumbs. I never seem to have them in the house, so I brought out a small box of Hickory Farms crackers.
After making a small slit in the end to release air, I whacked the poor, unsuspecting crackers with the backside of my meat tenderizer a few times.
Open the package and pour them into a large bowl.
I happen to have a head of elephant garlic on hand and I like the subtle flavour it gives. If you don’t have that, 3 or 4 cloves or regular garlic will work just as well – you just won’t have as much of it in the meatballs.
Skin the clove and take out the sprout.
Mince it well and add it to the breadcrumbs along with 1 tsp ground ginger and the skim milk powder.
Add 1 tsp rum extract and 2 Tbsp soya sauce and mix the meatball filler well.
Now add the meat.
Get your soon-to-be-moisturized hands in there and make sure that the flavouring is evenly distributed throughout the meat. Doesn’t that feel good? Your hands look younger already!
Ok, I know it’s not pretty, but it smells w u n d e r b a r !
Enter the unobstrusive yet powerful kitchen scale:
I put a piece of plastic wrap on top so that there is a little less cleaning to do. To make 50 meatballs, weigh out 17 g of the meat mixture for each meatball, roll them in your hands and place them on a baking sheet outfitted with aluminum foil and parchment paper.
Slide the baking sheet into a preheated 375 degree Fahrenheit oven and bake the meatballs for 15 minutes.
Since 50 meatballs is kind of a lot to eat in one sitting, I removed them from the baking tray and put 25 meatballs each into two waiting casserole dishes so that they could cool. NOTE: at this point, you can eat them as they are or pour over any sauce you like.
Each meatball has this nutrition:
- Calories: 33
- Fat: 2.3 g
- Carbs: 0.3 g
- Protein: 3.2 g
Audacious Cherry Sauce
I call it audacious, because the cherry flavour in this sweet and sour sauce is unmistakable. I like it, but if you prefer to tone it down a little, I’ll show you how at the end of the recipe.
- 2 cups Evans sour cherries
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 6 Tbsp white sugar
- 3 Tbsp white vinegar
- 3 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 tsp orange zest
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
Start with the cherries.
Pour the cherries and their juice into a bowl and blend them well – they will look pleasingly pink and frothy.
Time for some additions:
Zest the orange and juice it.
Now you can put all of the other ingredients into the bowl and give it another quick mix. Pour the sauce into a waiting saucepan. The mixture will be pink and foamy.
Over medium heat, continually stirring (so you don’t get cornstarch sludge at the bottom of the pan), watch for a vigorous rolling boil and a froth that turns rusty orange in colour while the juicy sauce becomes clear and dark red:
This recipe makes 2 cups of sauce. Drizzle half of the sauce over each casserole of steaming meatballs.
Put each casserole dish into the refrigerator to allow the meatballs time to marinate.
Half an hour before it is time to eat, you can do one of two things:
a) For pronounced cherry flavour, slide the casserole dish into a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for half an hour.
b) For subtle cherry overtones, remove the meatballs from the sauce and heat them in a covered frying pan over medium heat.
Nutrition for the sauce on each of the 50 meatballs is:
- Calories: 11
- Carbs: 2.8 g
- Protein: 0.2 g