Thursday, March 17, 2011

Meatball Stew

Today is all about the luck of the Irish, tiny men in stange hats and boots, green shamrocks, rainbows, pots of gold, and wearing the color green.  Today I am wearing grey with not a speck of green on me.  Every year I stare into my closet on March 17th and every year anything but the color green stares back at me. 

The year I was in preschool was the first year I remember being told of the tradition of wearing green on St. Paddy's Day.  It had been talked about for days before hand and that morning I remember staring in my closet and realizing I had nothing with any shade of green.  I know I cried but I don't how it went down exactly.  I just know that didn't want to get pinched and moreso I didn't want to feel like an outsider while everybody else wore green.  I wanted to be a part of the club.  My mom came into my room and handed me a pin to wear on my shirt.  It was this black cat with a green leprecaun hat.  Perfect!  I was so excited and I wore it proudly.  This morning I looked for that pin in my jewelry box and sadly it is no longer around.  I was hoping it would make me feel safe and secure and less of an outsider today in more ways than one.

If you like to cook then today is all about anything with the word Irish in the title or the word Guinness.  Then why is it that my title today is meatball stew you ask.  Well mostly because I am an outsider in the blogging world.  I just don't have this thing down yet.  Planning ahead, having a back up plan, these are things that are foreign to me.  I fly by the seat of my pants and usually that works out just fine.  Not this time.

Last year (not for St. Patrick's Day) I made a delicious Guinness brownie and I thought that this would be the perfect recipe to share with you today.  The fact that I saw what felt like 289 other Guinness brownie recipes on tastespotting this week is something that I will choose to ignore and push aside because dammit I am not a follower.  It was my fabulous and original idea.  I purchased all the ingredients last Saturday at the store then all of a sudden the week was in the rear view and I'm looking at my most busiest day of the week, Wednesday.  From the time I get home after work to the time I have to dash out the door to embark on three hours of afterschool activies with my son left me just enough time to whip up the brownies, put them in the oven, and then pull them back out and turn off the oven as I was walking out the door.  I was rushed and that was evident by opening the incorrect cabinets, forgetting to melt the butter with the chocolate, barely having enough parchment to line my pan with, and so much more. 

After I returned home last night at 8 pm I still had to feed my family dinner (thank the Gods for crockpots) before I could even pay my brownies the slightest bit of attention.  I cut up these babies and thought to myself "golly gee these are much more dense than I remember" read: "why the hell are these things crumbling when I cut them?".  While I am plating them to take a horrible picture without any detection of natural light in my white tiled kitchen I am thinking "these are not as pretty as I remember them to be".  After at least 30 pictures my son swipes one off the plate and I give in as well.  I was hoping to sink my teeth into one but instead the crumbs sort of fell away from the mass into my mouth.  Crap these things are dry.  Why, why, why?  In my head I ran through the process of these brownies hoping I could figure out where I went wrong when my son pipes in "what are these called again?".  Guinness (oh shit!) brownies.  Yes, I said shit, but I'm 60% sure I only said it in my head.  I forgot to put the Guinness beer in the Guinness brownies. There wasn't enough liquid in them and they were, as I already mentioned, dry and crumbly, and not very pretty.  I could not possibly put these on my blog today because I am a perfectionist like that.  I was so negative about it last night my husband had to remind me to give myself a break and that every once in a while a mistake will happen.  I was angry at myself and sad that I wouldn't be in the club today along with all the other bloggers who had something green or Irish cream or Guinness to deliver. 

Instead I bring you one of my husband's favorite meals, meatball stew.  There was an inspiration to this recipe somewhere along the line but I really changed and evolved it over time.  I sometimes make and freeze meatballs for an easy avenue to meals and this is the perfect way to use those.  I have incorporated the basic recipe for those meatballs here but please know that once you make the meatballs you can stop there, freeze them, and add them to the soup frozen. 

Meatball Stew
1 1/4 lbs ground turkey (7% lean) or ground beef
1 egg
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 tbl worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp montreal steak seasoning (optional)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups beef broth
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp Kitchen Bouquet
14 1/2 oz tomatoes with onion and garlic, diced or 14 1/2 ounces stewed tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp dried basil, crushed
8 oz frozen mixed vegetables (about 2 cups)

In a bowl mix together ground turkey (or beef), egg, breadcrumbs, worcestershire sauce, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and steak season if using.  Divide mixture into meatballs and place on a cookie sheet.  You may either continue making the soup at this point or flash freeze the meatballs and then place into a ziplock freezer bag or container for later use.

In a large saucepan melt butter over medium heat.  Whisk in flour until there are no lumps.  Gradually add in beef broth to form a thick sauce.  Season with salt and pepper, and darken with kitchen bouquet.  Add undrained tomatoes and basil.  Place meatballs (fresh or frozen) into the sauce and cover until cooked through, time will depend on if you used fresh or frozen.  Add in frozen vegetables and heat throug, about 5-7 minutes.  Ladle into bowls and serve.

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